In his first regular monthly column for SHP, Simon Turner at Driving for Better Business says Managers should never play the odds when it comes to driver safety.
Do you play the National Lottery? The odds of winning the jackpot are a vanishingly small one in 45 million, yet millions of us think, this week, it might be me!
The same optimism for a good outcome often blinds us to the risks involved in managing the safety of staff that drive for work.
There are currently around 20 million vehicles used for work in the UK. This includes approximately 700,000 company cars, 4.8 million vans, half a million trucks and HGVs and, it’s believed, around 14 million privately owned cars – what we call grey fleet. Then there are mopeds and motorbikes, taxis and minibusses, buses and coaches, and specialist vehicles.
Work-related road risk is the risk any of these drivers or riders might be involved in a collision with the result that they or other users could be injured. There are, according to statistics from the Department of Transport, around 40,000 reported casualties each year involving someone who was driving for work. That means the odds of being involved in an injury collision while driving for work are just 1 in 500 but we often assume it will never be one of our drivers.
Employers have a legal responsibility to manage driver safety under health and safety at work legislation. Unfortunately, the responsibilities often get split between different job roles: maybe a fleet manager looks after vehicle procurement, HR looks after driver recruitment and induction, the finance manager looks after driver remuneration… but who’s looking after overall company policy and monitoring compliance? Managing driver safety comes under the Health and Safety at Work Act so it’s you that any investigating authorities will want to talk to if the worst happens.
There are, according to statistics from the Department of Transport, around 40,000 reported casualties each year involving someone who was driving for work.
In summary, the key applicable sections are:
Section 2 – Duty of care to employees: The organisation’s business activities mustn’t put your own drivers at risk.
Section 3 – Duty of care to others: The organisation’s business activities mustn’t put other road users at risk.
This means you need to put competent drivers (with appropriate training if required) in well-maintained vehicles. If we look at all the fatalaties involving someone driving for work, only 17% of these were the person driving for work – of the remaining 83%, more than 4 out of every 5, were other, often vulnerable, road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
Breaches of sections 2 or 3 are organisational offences so the company can suffer crippling fines and negative publicity.
Section 37 – Managers responsibility for policy: Senior managers in the organisation need to ensure that the organisation’s driving activities have been properly risk assessed and appropriate policies and safe working practices put into place.
Section 7 – This is every single employee’s responsibility to follow any safe working practices that have been laid down and covers directors, managers, work schedulers, in-house vehicle mechanics and, of course, drivers.
Breaches of sections 7 or 37 are individual offences and can result in personal fines, disqualification from being a Director and, in the worst cases, a possible prison sentence.
A genuine desire to ensure staff go home safe and well at the end of each day is hopefully the primary concern in every organisation, however, you might find it surprising just how much better your organisation performs when driver safety is managed well, with massive improvements possible in productivity, efficiency and sustainability.
Our mission at Driving for Better Business (Dfbb) is to raise awareness of the importance of managing work-related road risk by demonstrating the business benefits of managing that risk more effectively. This include the opportunity to significantly reduce fleet operating costs such as insurance, repair costs, routine servicing and maintenance, tyre use and fuel, as well as lowering your carbon emissions.
Following good practice means understanding where you are now and what management gaps you have, setting a baseline for what you’re going to measure, and then making the appropriate improvements to working practices and culture, while tracking the effect they have on your metrics. Get it right, and driver safety won’t be a lottery anymore.
*Department for Transport statistics
Driving for Better Business is a free programme to help you reduce work-related road risk, control the associated costs and improve compliance with current legislation and guidance.
- Our 7-Step Framework will help you improve your management processes
- Our free resources will help improve safety knowledge among both managers and drivers
- Our case studies will demonstrate how others have achieved impressive improvements
This eBook will guide you through some of the key understandings you need to be able to manage driver safety effectively and, at the end, provide a series of free resources you can access to help you ensure your own driver safety management system is robust, legally compliant and in line with industry-accepted good practice.
Download this eBook from Driving for Better Business and SHP to cover:
- Why do we need to manage driver safety?
- Duty of care – a shared responsibility;
- Setting the rules with a driving for work policy;
- Managing driver safety;
- Ensuring safe vehicles;
- Safe journeys and fitness to drive;
- Record keeping;
- The business benefits of good practice;
- Additional resources