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With the rapid pace that affordable vehicle safety tech is evolving, businesses are running out of lawful excuses not to take fleet safety seriously
t goes without saying that employees are the most important asset to any company. However, some businesses aren’t paying credence to this notion when it comes to the place their workers and others are most at risk – the road. “According to figures from the Department of Transport, [over a quarter] of road deaths [could] involve a driver on a work journey,” says Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease, the leasing company. Specifically, casualties from accidents involving people driving as part of their job hit 41,922 in 2017 according to the Department of Transport. Of those, 5,336 were seriously injured and 499 died. The moral weight this very real possibility bears on fleet managers and business owners is heavy and the law understandably comes down hard on negligence. For starters, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 orders employers to carry out active assessments of their staff’s risks
at work, including how such risks affect the public and coming up with proposals to counter them. And if a driver’s killed while working with evidence of a “gross breach of a relevant duty of care,” your whole company could face prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 also says you must so far as reasonably practicable ensure all employees are safe at work. The Health and Safety Executive, the government agency, clarifies this means employers aren’t expected to adopt measures if “they’re technically impossible or if the time, trouble or cost of the measures would be grossly disproportionate to the risk.” However, given today’s groundbreaking and cost-effective developments in vehicle safety, it’s difficult to find a lawful excuse not to arm your fleet to the teeth. “Fleet management can include a range of functions such as financing, vehicle
“You want to make sure that the vehicles that your employees are driving are safe for the roads,”
Angela Dronsfield, managing director of Dronsfields
maintenance, vehicle telematics and driver management to name but a few,” says Angela Dronsfield, managing director of Dronsfields, the spare parts dealer. Take Volvo, which has a vision that by 2020 no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car with the likes of the City Safety system. This automatically warns and brakes when anything from a cyclist to a large animal are on course for collision and avoids colliding with pedestrians at speeds up to 45 kilometres per hour. Given the diverse situations and environments drivers must navigate, from packed cities to wild countrysides, this kind of technology is vital for companies to keep an eye on every risk. “[Good] fleet management allows companies to remove or minimise risk associated with investment, improving efficiency and productivity [and] reducing their overall transportation and staff costs, [as well as] providing compliance with government legislation,” Dronsfield argues.
“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
By the numbers
was the value for preventative measures against road accidents in 2017, with £5bn placed on damage-only accidents.
of all road traffic accidents might involve someone driving as part of work.
41,922 casualties from vehicle accidents were people driving for their job in 2017, of which 5,336 were seriously injured and 499 died.
Sources: Department of Transport, World Health Organisation
people die per year from road traffic crashes.
of road traffic fatalities are males under 25, making them nearly three times more at risk than young females.
8th is the position road injuries held in the biggest causes of global deaths in 2016 – up from 10th place in 2000.
was the cost of road traffic accidents in 2017.
SAFER DRIVERS AND REDUCED COSTS WITH VOLVO It’s no accident that we’re leaders in protecting drivers. In our 40 years of collecting real life accident data, we’ve looked at safety from every angle and put collision prevention at the heart of our vision. With innovations such as pioneering City Safety technology, 360° Camera and Run-off Road Protection, you can be sure that your fleet is secure, while the financial benefits of reduced insurance and accident costs will be clear to see on your balance sheet. CONTACT THE VOLVO CAR BUSINESS CENTRE ABOUT OUR RANGE ON 0345 600 4027 VOLVO BUSINESS SALES YOUR BUSINESS. OUR EXPERTISE
Fuel consumption and CO 2* figures for the Volvo Cars range, in MPG (l/100km): WLTP Combined 26.2 – 176.5 (10.8 – 1.6). NEDC CO 2 emissions 192 – 39g/km. Twin Engine WLTP electric energy consumption 3.1 – 3.6 miles/kWh. Twin Engine WLTP all electric range 23.0 – 36.6 miles. Figures shown are for comparability purposes; only compare fuel consumption and CO2
figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. These figures may not reflect real life driving results, which will depend upon a number of factors including the accessories fitted (post-registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load. *There is a new test used for fuel consumption and CO2 figures. The CO2 figures shown, however, are based on the outgoing test cycle and will be used to calculate vehicle tax on first registration. Preliminary data. Please contact your retailer for latest information.