Author Bio ▼

Dr Karen McDonnell is Head of Global Relations at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). She is also the immediate past president of IOSH.
May 29, 2024

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driver safety

Fuelling the eco-driving conversation

Dr Karen McDonnell, Head of Global Relations at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), asks: are your drivers eco-warriors or fuel vampires?

Driving can be an expensive business and in an age of rising costs, eco-driving can help reduce fuel consumption while also lessening your impact on the environment.

My question to those responsible for anyone that drives for work is: are your drivers eco-warriors or fuel vampires?

Applying our top eco-driving tips at work can create a fleet of eco-warriors and have the benefit that drivers can take these home with them. These tips also reflect the importance of managing work-related road risk in the same way that you would manage any other risk to your organisation.

  1. Get your vehicle serviced regularly
  2. Check tyre pressures regularly: soft tyres are fuel vampires
  3. Don’t carry unnecessary weight in your vehicle
  4. Plan your route: a ring road might be slightly longer but could be better for fuel economy
  5. Drive smoothly, accelerate and brake gently
  6. Read the road ahead to anticipate what’s happening and avoid unnecessary braking
  7. Slow down: the faster you go the more fuel you use. Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph
  8. Keep a note of your fuel consumption to track how much it improves.

Whether you are reading this as a fleet, human resources, training or logistics manager, ask yourself the following “safe vehicle, safe journey, safe driver” questions:

  • Is the vehicle fleet routinely maintained?
  • Are daily checks undertaken, and how quickly are faults remedied?
  • Is work planned to ensure drivers can meet the demands of the business while driving at an appropriate speed?
  • Are routes planned to avoid urban driving where practicable?
  • Do you really understand the type of driving people do on behalf of the organisation?
  • Have you spoken to your drivers recently?
  • Do you track the number of miles driven daily, weekly, monthly and annually (remember, driving for work is for most of us the most dangerous thing we do)?
  • Do you have a person-centered approach to managing driving risk (remember, each driver is a unique individual)?
  • Do you encourage information sharing around near misses, perhaps as a result of distraction or inappropriate speed?
  • Do you encourage the development of smooth driving by your drivers?
  • How do these insights help you manage driving risk and create eco-warriors?

Each driver will have a different profile. They may come to your attention because of the high mileage they drive, because they have just completed the recruitment process, because they have been involved in an accident or perhaps as an older driver there are health issues that require to be understood and managed.

Start with the data and build a dialogue around managing driving risk that includes eco-driving. Then develop a picture of each driver that tells their story helping to create a person-centered approach to smooth driving, moving them from fuel vampire to eco-warrior — a shift which may also save their life.

Further reading: National Highways: “Why aren’t road collisions RIDDOR reportable?”

Driving for Better Safety - Free eBook download

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;
  • Reporting;
  • The business benefits of good practice;
  • Additional resources

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