Fleet operators have a duty of care to their employees and other road users whenever anyone is driving for business. This means they must ensure that drivers behave in a safe manner when behind the wheel. The most effective way of ensuring safe driving is to assess drivers, train to address any deficits, and periodically to keep skills and knowledge fresh; and to monitor on-road safety.
Many fleet operators will find it most effective to assess drivers using a mixture of psychometric and knowledge-based questionnaires, on-road assessments and driving history including any licence points, PCNs, collisions or convictions.
Training addresses driver performance – their skills and knowledge. However, it may be less effective at changing attitudes or behaviour.
Drivers prone to risky behaviours may benefit from some intensive in-vehicle training. However, if they do not show sustained improvement they should be dismissed on safety grounds.
Low-risk drivers can refresh their knowledge and awareness with toolbox talks, video and e-learning modules.
Some training is mandated by law – such as the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence training for HGV and PSV licence holders, which requires five days of accredited training in every five-year period.
“You can’t simply tell a driver to drive better without giving them the tools to do so,” says Evan Morris, RED Corporate Driver Training. “As a driver, we all have areas in which we can improve. These may even be areas we have never considered. This is why in vehicle training is so valuable to keep drivers safe.”
Key tips for training
- People learn in a variety of ways and styles.
- Safety messages should be frequently repeated.
- Behavioural change requires motivation – motivations include finance, family, safety, progression or self-respect.
- No progression is regression. Roads become busier, the Highway Code changes and jobs become more challenging.
- Encourage a culture of professionalism for all business drivers, including continual professional development. Training is not criticism but an opportunity for self- development.
Monitoring driver behaviour
You cannot monitor or manage what you can’t see – which is why managers should use technology solutions to monitor driver behaviour. These include telematics, camera systems and driver assistance technologies.
There are various indirect sources of information about driver behaviour including:
- High fuel usage and repair costs
- Penalty charge notices
- Public comments
- Incidents, collisions and claims
All this data is retrospective, and so the management response will always be reactive. You are receiving information highlighting that something has already gone wrong.
Fleet and road safety should be proactive and preventive. Technology solutions can make on-road behaviour visible, and allow you to identify areas of risk and eliminate them before a collision occurs.
Technology solutions therefore can give valuable insights into your business driving risk, both at a fleet and an individual level. Telematics and cameras can enable managers to identify and eliminate risk proactively before any collision takes place, provided the data is used for driver coaching. Doing so brings substantial safety and financial benefits.
If fleet managers do not act to minimise known risks, or risks which should have been identified, then the company could be found criminally liable in the event of a serious collision.
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