Fleet News

Fleets risk unsafe driving being publicly exposed on social networks

Company car and van drivers are being publicly ‘named and shamed’ by other road users after being caught by citizen traffic cops.

Evidence of poor driving is being gathered by a growing community of motorists who use dashboard cameras and then post footage online.

Videos of dangerous incidents have even been captured by colleagues using mobile phones, and the footage shared with employers to try to force them to take action.

In one case, a company car driver was captured texting in heavy traffic as his car ran into the back of the vehicle in front.

In another posting to a Facebook group dedicated to capturing footage of dangerous drivers, a motorist appeals for help tracking down the company that employs a van driver who came within metres of a head-on collision while overtaking a lorry.

At one 22-vehicle fleet, an employee used a mobile phone to film a colleague who was texting while driving at 70mph on the motorway and passed it to the fleet manager.

The fleet manager, who wished to remain anonymous, investigated and found that the employee had a catalogue of previous driving offences, including licence endorsements.

However, he was left frustrated after senior management failed to act on the video evidence provided, dismissing it as too difficult to tackle.

Instead, the fleet manager sent the footage to the police and even shared it on another Facebook group dedicated to exposing bad driving.

He said: “A colleague sent me the video that they had taken of the driver texting while doing 70mph. It was only 24 seconds long, but I was told that the activity captured was maintained for approximately an hour.

“With some homework, I built a timeline of the person featured, detailing other incidents, including crashing into the rear of a stationary vehicle while texting – writing the company vehicle off. There was also a subsequent conviction for using a mobile phone, but this was hidden from the company.

“Then, in a car park, the driver crashed into another vehicle whilst using Twitter and even tweeted about it happening.”

However, he says that board members were dismissive. Comments included: “We can’t discipline her as she probably didn’t know it was illegal to text whilst driving” and “we can’t dismiss her because there’s no one else to do her job”.

They also turned on the passenger for not speaking out to tackle the behaviour, claiming “that’s sneaky and underhand to take a video like that”.

He added: “I was effectively told to shut up and get back in my box.”

Defending his actions against accusations that he might have gone too far in posting the footage on social media, the fleet manager said: “This person is a danger to herself but, more importantly, a danger to the public at large. I thought that perhaps if this video clip does the rounds it may actually get her to desist.”

The video has since been removed from the site and police said they couldn’t prosecute because the footage could have been tampered with.

Mark Berry, international sales director for vehicle CCTV company, SmartWitness, said: “Many cheaper products on the market do not offer this kind of protection, and so there is the very real possibility that they would not be accepted in court, which is essential, especially in serious incidents.”

Meanwhile, drivers in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Essex and West Yorkshire have been prosecuted using evidence primarily from dashboard cameras.

One motorist had a vehicle seized for driving past a queue of traffic up the middle of a road; another is being prosecuted for careless driving after manoeuvring a car down a cycle lane. A third motorist received a fine and penalty points when caught parked in a bus stop.

Some police forces are setting up their own systems for processing the footage. The Metropolitan Police in London has developed a website that allows drivers to upload footage directly after a major incident, while Northamptonshire police says it has officers dedicated to assessing and reviewing footage sent in by the public, which can then be used in prosecutions.


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Comments

  • Sage & Onion - 10/03/2015 14:38

    It takes a brave fleet manager to actually speak out like this publicly against their own employer. But obviously not brave enough not to remain anonymous or to name his employer into shaming them to take action. Perhaps it was a lack of a mobile phone use policy that prevented any further action being taken if the driver "didn't know texting was illegal whilst driving". The fact they didn't know it was unsafe is even worse though! It's a difficult predicament to be in as a fleet manager when there are overriding reasons why action shouldn't or couldn't be taken in such incidents. But certainly some sort of extra training and monitoring of phone use while driving should have been the bare minimum. If I were in this FM's shoes I'd perhaps insist that this driver is used to trial some of the new devices that are about such as phone/data signal jammers or even driver-facing 3G cameras in an effort to try and modify their behaviour if no disciplinary action will be taken. However, personally I am a great believer in education, monitoring, training, and more training, rather than use the disciplinary route because these days there is a lot of heavy investment (both in time and money) required in recruiting and training people to do their jobs and so much productivity is lost in the culture of "sack and replace" in my opinion. But I am sure there will be cases where terminating employment is the only guaranteed way of controlling risks, and this lady with the texting/tweeting/social media obsession may be one of them.

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