“More than a quarter of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who is driving for work” – Brake. Also see our blog on fleet accident statistics to discover how to improve fleet safety.
The cost of repairing a vehicle after an accident can be small when compared to all of the other costs involved – you could end up paying 36 times the repair cost! We think that’s too much, so here are eight ways to reduce your road risk exposure…
1. Speak to the bosses
Buy-in from bosses is everything. In our experience, the first thing you should do is speak to management and get them to back your proposals.
Show them just how much money you could save, and also point out the real dangers that your business faces with employees out on the road.
We all know that driving for work is the most dangerous activity many employees undertake, and contributes to far more work-related accidental deaths and serious injuries than all other work tasks. Latest figures show there are 1,750 deaths, 23,000 serious injuries and 170,000 minor injuries from driving every year in the UK.
And don’t forget that accidents can lead to:
- Increased insurance costs
- Vehicle downtime
- Lost productivity
- Employee sick leave
- Missed sales
- Lost or damaged stock
- Reputational consequences
- …and more
2. Write a policy
Get it in writing. You have a legal obligation to have a written road risk. Make sure you also periodically assess employees to check that they are still medically and legally capable of driving.
Your policy should contain simple language to set out objectives for reducing accidents and outline how this will be achieved. It’s worth reading the Managing work-related road safety guide.
The document will serve as the cornerstone of your accident reduction strategy and should cover aspects such as:
- Personal responsibilities
- Mobile phone distraction
- Drugs and drinking
- Driver behaviour
- Route planning
- Road conditions
- Health and well-being
- Emergency procedures
Sample documents are available in several places online, including on the website of Road Safety GB.
3. Get accurate information
You’ll need good data. To reduce your accident rate, you need to know as much as possible about any incidents that have occurred. It’s also vital you keep detailed records, including any communication sent regarding actions taken to reduce accidents, or in response to them.
You also need to keep detailed information on journey type, how long the employee had been driving, whether the vehicle had recently been inspected for safety and more.
We know of some companies who insist on interviewing drivers in detail after every accident. Fleet accident management software could prove valuable here, acting as a platform in which to store information.
4. Benchmark yourself
Look at your own performance. You might think you’re doing the best possible job, but in our experience, it never hurts to check in with what your peers are up to.
Benchmarking is a great way of validating your approach (or not!) and organisations such as Brake and AFP can help with this. You will also be able to share best practice ideas.
5. Keep drivers informed
You need to engage with your drivers. If you don’t, the policy will fail. They need to be aware of what you are trying to achieve and how – with special attention to their role. This means providing guidance about:
- Their on-road behaviour
- The inspections that they need to periodically carry out on their vehicles
- What they need to do after a collision
- Any penalties likely to be implemented as a result of poor driving
We recommend regular updates too – it is important to keep safety at the top of your agenda.
“Inappropriate speed contributes to around 10% of all injury collisions reported to the police, 13% of crashes resulting in a serious injury and 24% of collisions which result in a death” – RoSPA
6. Skills assessment
Keep watch on drivers. We recommend all drivers should be assessed on a regular basis. At the very least, this means checking their driving licence and looking at health issues. It is also very desirable to assess practical skills through on-road checks.
Assessments should be repeated following accidents and, if there is a question mark over a driver’s ability or suitability, they should be prevented from driving for work immediately pending further investigations.
7. Zero tolerance
There’s no wiggle room here. You must make it clear to drivers that you expect absolute adherence to the law when it comes to driving under the influence of drink and drugs. Many fleets go even further and state that drivers should not drive under the influence of any drink or drugs. This policy applies to both prescription and illegal drugs.
If in doubt, you and the driver should seek advice from a medical professional.
8. Culture club
It’s all or nothing. We believe it is vital that every sector of your business takes road safety seriously. There’s little point in having a comprehensive accident reduction strategy if employees are placed under pressure by line managers to follow unrealistic schedules or delivery times.
It’s a good idea to take part in the annual Road Safety Week organised by Brake, which provides ideas designed to encourage participation at both an employee and a corporate level.
Click here to learn more about safe driving and methods to reduce road accidents.