It may not automatically spring to mind, but any big name brand you can think of (and all of those you can’t) – from the NHS to Iceland – relies on a fleet. Whether it’s to transport supplies, materials or deliver groceries, that’s a lot of vans, a lot of drivers and a lot of potential problems.
Of course it goes without saying, therefore, that as a manager, ensuring fleet safety should be of the upmost importance. And vitally, the buck lies with you. It may sound like a mammoth task, but it’s definitely worth being prepared. Luckily for you, we’ve laid out some top tips to help you on the road to success!
• Policy please. This must be incorporated as part of any organisation’s approach to staff wellbeing, safety and security and should include a clear statement of your expectations in relation to fleet safety. It should be comprehensive, up-to-date and fully integrated in the company culture.
• Risk assessments. As well as having the theory covered, you must also keep testing the practical elements of fleet safety, including driver wellbeing, vehicle care and journey management. Vitally, you must also be both willing and prepare to act on your findings – even if it means updating your policies and provisions. Remember, change can be good.
• Record. Ensure that any incident involving any vehicle driven on behalf of your organisation is logged and the data analysed regularly to prevent recurrences. Accidents will inevitably happen; make sure you learn from them.
• Committee. It may not be a bad idea to set up a safety committee, made up of staff throughout your organisation, so they can tell you directly what is and is not working.
If you are seen to be directly championing and working towards fleet safety, it will become an important priority throughout the company. As Ian Kemp, Commercial Motor Underwriting Director at insurance company, RSA, says: “Risk management can be approached on one of two ways – either as a tick box exercise, where the minimal amount is done or the second way where there is meaningful commitment and involvement from the ‘top’, senior personnel involved with Fleet Risk Management, qualified staff and appropriate ratio of managers to drivers. Even something as straightforward as an up to date policy or handbook can make a difference. It goes without saying that the second way delivers meaningful improvements and clear safety benefits.”
• Be prepared. According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), 70% of people say their bosses do not offer or require medical check-ups – not even a basic eye test, while 75% say they have never been offered any sort of driver risk assessment or training. With 1,000 people killed each year while driving for work (a whopping third of road crashes), this is clearly not an acceptable reality. “Too many employers think their responsibility for employees when they’re at work, ends at the front door or the factory gate”, says IAM Chief Executive, Christopher Bullock. “Quite apart from being irresponsible, it is bad for their business.” Make sure each driver receives a handbook outlining the company’s policies and procedures regarding fleet safety and are sufficiently inducted and assessed before being hired to establish that they are properly licensed, suitably trained and medically fit to drive. Reinforcing and updating the training each year is not a bad idea, either.
• Check-up. Just because they’ve passed your test to hit the road, doesn’t mean you should breathe a sigh of relief and just forget about them. In the same way that you would service your vehicles, you should also keep track of and deliver feedback on driver behaviour – nothing that some trusty telematics can’t assist with! You can even, on occasion, send someone along for the journey to assess in real-time, too. You’ll be amazed at how much more responsible your drivers will act when they know they’re being watched!
• Incentivise. It goes without saying that negative behaviour will be punished, but on the flipside, don’t be afraid to reward those who respect the rules of the road, either. Setting up an incentives programme will not only encourage your drivers to act safely and responsibly, it may also infuse a little bit of fun into their working day, too!
• Identify. Make sure you are aware of every person that drives on behalf of your company – even if they are using their own car. However, according to a study conducted by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) and the British Vehicle Leasing and Rental Association (BVLRA), 40% of all vehicles on the road are part of a ‘grey fleet’ (personal cars) – at a cost of £5.5bn. Comprising 14 million cars, the average ‘grey fleet’ car is older, less environmentally-friendly and more dangerous than its company-car counterpart, so perhaps it’s time to challenge this “invisible” fleet often overlooked by Britain’s bosses, according to BVRLA Chief Executive, Garry Keaney. “This blind spot is wasting taxpayer money, costing businesses millions of pounds, damaging our environment and making our roads more dangerous.”
• Suitable. All vehicles driven on behalf of the organisation should be suitable for their intended purpose and fitted with appropriate safety features.
• Checked. All vehicles should be regularly inspected and maintained under the manufacturer’s recommendations and in accordance with specific licensing or operational requirements. This will help reduce breakdowns and can limit the occurrence of accidents due to faulty equipment. According to Lyndsey Daykin, Head of Marketing at removals firm, Pickfords, ‘you should ensure that every driver performs the necessary vehicle checks before each shift and proactive management staff focus on making the defect reporting process robust.’
• Tyres. According to insurance company, NFU Mutual, tyre safety is still an overlooked area of fleet management – even though the number of motorists killed or seriously injured due to illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres is now at 224 – up from an annual average of 198. As a result, they suggest implementing a simple tyre check to cover air pressure, tread depth and condition. “Although the responsibility for checking tyre treads, lights, wipers and so on lies with the driver, organisations have a legal responsibility to manage health and safety effectively,” says NFU Mutual’s Motor Underwriting Manager, Gordon Wright. “Ensuring your company is meeting legal and regulatory requirements can be a daunting process, but it’s essential to protect your business from potential prosecution should an accident occur.”
• Is it necessary? Don’t send your drivers on an unnecessarily long-winded journey; a route planner can ensure they are taking the most effective path – thus reducing the chance of fatigue on the road and the likelihood of accidents.
• Be realistic. It’s important that journeys are scheduled to a realistic timetable so that drivers don’t feel under pressure and that adequate rest periods are included.
• Dashboard cam. Bobbi Brant, Marketing Executive of Expert Market – a B2B marketplace that compares various products, including fleet management software, advises on installing one of these to record “short bursts of time around events, such as collisions. This could improve future safety as it may flag up particular areas, junctions or behaviours that are likely to cause a collision. Also, simply the knowledge that there is a camera on board could deter drivers from driving or behaving erratically.”
• Cellcontrol. This nifty app, which works in conjunction with a little black box placed on the dashboard, allows fleet managers to control their drivers’ usage of phones while driving – a must-have tool in the fight against distracted driving.
Ready … set … go!