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Renewed focus on road safety will cut casualties

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A renewed focus by employers voluntarily reducing the risks associated with operating company vehicles has been called for.

Two separate meetings have been held to help re-energise the management of occupational road risk amid evidence that there has been a plateauing in the long-time reduction in road casualty figures.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that casualty reduction has slowed since the turn of the decade; nevertheless, road deaths are at a record low and slight and serious injuries have also continued to fall (see graph, opposite page).

The number of fatalities from 2007 to 2010 fell by 1,096, but from 2010 to 2013, they reduced by only 137.

However, with more than a quarter of casualties being work-related, there is a concern that as the economy continues to recover, triggering an increase in vehicle mileage, accident statistics could even rise.

That is against a reduction in visible policing and general cutbacks in the amount of money spent by Government on road safety, according to campaigners.

Calling the progress in casualty reduction since 2010 lamentable, David Davies, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said the risks associated with operating company vehicles must be actively managed. “It is no good companies just having a policy in place,” he said. “It must have teeth. Compliance must be monitored regularly.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recently welcomed more than 30 leading thinkers and practitioners after publishing its Strategic Review of the Management of Occupational Road Risk report.

Occupational road risk is single biggest issue

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA’s partnership consultant and event chair, said: “Managing occupational road risk is the single biggest work-related safety issue for almost all UK businesses so it cannot be ignored.”

The meeting focused on issues surrounding data on the scale, severity and causes of work-related crashes, the lack of detailed studies on interventions and the lack of awareness of occupational road risk management outside higher-performing organisations.

It also identified several ideas to further encourage businesses to adopt work-related road safety measures (see panel, opposite page).

Meanwhile, actions required to reduce the risks associated with operating company cars and commercial vehicles were discussed at a meeting organised by vehicle CCTV, telematics and risk management provider VUE (Vision Unique Equipment). This was attended by PACTS and representatives of the insurance industry.

Glen Mullins, managing director of VUE, said employers needed to be better educated on the benefits of changing driver behaviour through technology and evidence-based driver training. However, he claimed: “Some fleets are introducing technology to get a cheaper insurance premium, but they are not then using information delivered to actively manage their fleet operation.

“We would like to see fleets perform well first and then be rewarded for their success with reduced premiums.”

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it encourages all drivers and fleet owners to undertake measures that will improve the safety of their vehicles on the roads.

“When an insurance policy is taken out or at the point of renewal, many commercial insurers will discuss the installation of safety features,” said an ABI spokesman.

“Some of our members will offer upfront premium discounts for customers who are willing to install such technology and give them access to devices at discounted rates through agreements they have with preferred suppliers.”

In acknowledging that technology such as in-vehicle cameras and telematics had a role to play, Davies said: “Information gathered needs to be used to actively manage drivers and business operations.”

Additionally, as the number of vans increase as a consequence of the growth in home deliveries, he said employers needed to focus much more on journey scheduling and time management to guard against putting drivers under too much pressure.

While there are positive steps that employers can take, including achieving ISO 39001 Road Traffic Safety Management accreditation, issues such as the introduction of different licences for those driving company-provided vehicles and specifically vans, mandatory training for employees who drive for work and more safety-related features on vehicles, were also discussed at the VUE meeting.

Legislation is a step too far

Davies said: “We need to look at how we manage and improve driver training in the course of work, rather than simply introducing a qualification.”

Both Mullins and Davies believe legislation aimed at at-work drivers is currently a step too far, but Mullins said: “I would favour evidence that drivers have been on some form of training over and above proof that they have passed their driving test.”

On November 20, the Transport Safety Commission, chaired by Sir Peter Bottomley MP, will be hearing evidence from Kevin Myers, acting chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Davies said: “We believe HSE needs to be taking more of an interest in occupational road risk management and pay greater attention to what employers are doing. Work-related road accidents should be reportable under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).”

This was a view echoed at the latest Fleet Industry Manifesto meeting (see page 28).

However, HSE has consistently said that work-related road traffic crashes are not within its remit as they fall under the Road Traffic Act.

New reporting system developed

As a result of HSE’s standpoint, a new road crash reporting system has been developed by the construction industry.  The CLOCS (Construction, Logistics and Cyclist Safety) toolkit aims to help fleet and transport operators manage, report and analyse road traffic collisions.

Although the initiative has its roots in the construction logistics sector, CLOCS can easily be transferred to other business/industry sectors with fleet operations.

Ian Vincent, of CLOCS, said: “The construction industry is leading the way; other transport sectors are encouraged to follow.”

There are now more than 60 organisations committed to implementing and adhering to the CLOCS standard across the UK.

CLOCS Manager, a free-to-use online database, enables fleet managers to log collisions and near misses to help identify contributory factors, incident hotspots and trends.

Companies filling in collision reports have the option of adding learning notes to their entry, which can then be accessed as anonymous data by other users.

“By understanding what is happening on the road, the industry can learn from each other and take actions to reduce the risk of future incidents,” said Vincent.

CLOCS Manager can be used to meet Transport for London’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) requirements for recording, investigating and analysing collisions.  Operators meeting the FORS silver standard are also compliant with the CLOCS Standard

Jo Grosvenor, of Towergate Insurance, a CLOCS champion, said: “This toolkit gives the operator – large or small – everything needed to get a policy in place.”

Bibbings concluded: “In recent years it has been more difficult to maintain momentum for change.

“But if we continue to stick at it, there is major scope for further reducing casualties as well as the costs – both human and financial – which work-related road crashes impose on families, businesses, communities and the wider economy.”

Re-energise occupational road risk management

¦ Develop one established guide which would be a resource for companies to use

¦ Appoint a dedicated manager or ‘champion’ to ensure occupational road risk management receives sufficient focus

¦ Introduce occupational road risk management to the procurement process to encourage adoption by suppliers

¦ Map the scale of managing occupational road risk engagement with employers so gaps could be identified

¦ Lobby Government, individuals and business/industry sectors to encourage uptake

¦ Target company directors and senior management to help spread the word

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