“Keeping employees safe on the road isn’t just a legal requirement – it can also help to boost the efficiency of a fleet, decrease downtime and reduce expenditure on maintenance and repairs” Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease
Indeed, legal repercussions are one thing but businesses feel the burn in more ways than one without adequate fleet safety. “Keeping employees safe on the road isn’t just a legal requirement – it can also help to boost the efficiency of a fleet, decrease downtime and reduce expenditure on maintenance and repairs,” Adams says. Across 2017 road traffic casualties cost £16.3m, resulting in an estimated £35bn value for preventative measures, according to the Department for Transport. And that’s not even the total price companies face with having reckless drivers. “For instance, as well as being dangerous, over-acceleration and taking corners too quickly contributes to increased fuel cost, wears the tyres and puts engine parts under added strain,” Adams adds. Prevention over reaction is the name of the game and there are many ways to achieve it. Even something as basic as printing out staff manuals can make a difference, as Adams advises. “A handbook that reminds employees they are still at work when driving and includes instructions on safe travel can help with driver education – as well as reducing unnecessary costs associated with wear and tear,” he describes.
However, it’s a given passive policies can quickly devolve into bureaucratic white noise for workers. Adams for one has seen grey fleet drivers use personal vehicles far below the employer’s safety standards. “It’s also important to ensure that any policy in place is properly monitored and managed as we found that, even when a policy is in place, many grey fleet drivers may still be using older cars that don’t meet modern safety specifications – some vehicles upwards of 15 years old.” This demands more time and money to enforce and even then workers’ poor choices will inevitably slip through the net, potentially landing employers in hot water. There’s no hiding passive precautions won’t cut it alone. Instead, tech built into vehicles such as mobile telematics will protect employees whether they like it or not. “Investing in a fully functioning and fully accessible telematics platform to help our drivers stay safe is key,” says Ed Ring, academy manager at First Mile, the waste management service. As a case in point, three of 2018’s top seven safest cars according to Euro NCAP – the Volvo XC40, S60 and V60 – are equipped with Volvo On Call, a feature that automatically rings an operator
when airbags are deployed or safety belt pretensioners have been activated. Finally, if the operator hears no response, emergency services are then alerted to the vehicle’s location. This kind of advanced tech leaves little room for error but it’s no good slapping it on your fleet and washing your hands of the affair – vehicle safety is a roundthe-clock commitment. “One thing I would recommend above anything else is ensuring that your company’s fleet is regularly maintained and serviced,” says Dronsfield. Having your drivers sport vehicles from a trustworthy and easily reachable manufacturer with safety guarantees is one way to ensure consistent quality without needing to take them to the shop every week. “You want to make sure that the vehicles that your employees are driving are safe for the roads,” Dronsfield summarises. Intelligent safety features are becoming something of a standard for companies that even just dabble in fleet management. After all, for businesses refusing to move with the times, the legal and monetary risks seem simply too great to withstand. Angus Shaw Commerical writer