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July 4, 2015

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Managing fleet risk


traffic-671399_640By Melvyn Hodgetts, champion programme manager, Driving for Better Business

Fleet Risk at its simplest is the risk of a crash while driving for work purposes; the potential injury to the driver, passenger and other road users; and the consequential financial losses associated with the crash.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who drives for their business for whatever purpose, whether in a company vehicle or their own vehicle (the so named Grey Fleet).

The Department for Transport (DfT) quantify this risk in its annual road casualty statistical reports; for 2013 they reported that:

  • 1,713 people were killed on UK roads in 2013;
  • 21,657 seriously injured;
  • 515 killed as a result of someone driving for work (30 per cent); and
  • 5052 seriously injured as a result of someone driving for work (23 per cent). 1

Compare that to the 133 “occupational fatalities” reported to the HSE in the same period and its clear there is a greater occupational risk from death and serious injury while driving than for any other single workplace activity.

Most safety professionals will be aware of these figures. They will also be aware that the Health and Safety Executive’s Driving At Work INDG382(Managing work related road safety) 2 guidance document clearly states;

“Health and safety law applies to work activities on the road in the same way as it does to all work activities and you need to manage the risks to drivers as part of your health and safety arrangements”

Safety professionals will be used to advancing the moral, and legal arguments to convince the upper echelons of management of the need to manage occupational road risk, but what about the financial argument? It may be a little mercenary to think about using cost and savings to engage with the board on a subject like this but if you were to ask these two questions of almost any SME, I suggest the answers would not advance your case very far.

  • What’s the likelihood of the HSE prosecuting us for our not managing our driving risk? How many crashes have we had that have resulted in death or serious injury?

Road risk is not high on the HSE radar, the police take primacy at the crash scene and unless there is something to suggest serious organisational failure the Road Traffic Act will be the legislation of choice and the driver’s behaviour will be the focus. It’s true that there is a H&S legal obligation but there is very little case law to support this argument; and despite the numbers, not many SMEs actually experience serious road traffic collisions with death or serious injury consequences. However, if motivated, most SMEs will be able to quantify the true costs incurred by their fleets and may be surprised to discover that it’s likely to exceed the bent metal costs by at least 4 times.

From an organisational perspective SMEs should be thinking about legal compliance and risk management. Risk being both:

  1. The risk of injury to their employees and others;
  2. Reputational and societal risk; and also
  3. Financial risk.

It follows then that the legal risk of reducing injury alone will not be enough to convince SME’s to better manage their driver risk, but most would agree that the financial rewards and other business benefits that could be gained would be a major factor in convincing them to take the matter seriously.

A simple illustration is the link between safer driving and more fuel effective driving. This has long been established and many of the business champions registered with Driving for Better Business3 can demonstrate 10 per cent or more reduction in fuel costs just by adoption of simple driver behavioural tools.

Driving for Better Business is a campaign funded by the DfT and its aim is to get the business community to speak to businesses about the business case for managing at work driving risks.

All of the 50 or so Driving for Better Business champions are organisations who have implemented occupational road risk programmes and seen significant reductions in collision rates and accident costs that far outweigh the cost of the programme. These champions have all agreed to share their results to influence others to follow suit.

Another quality exhibited by Driving for Better Business champions is top down recognition and commitment, this is paramount to any road risk programme. Proactive engagement and leadership by directors and senior management who will champion the programme is essential in building an improved safety culture (overall as well as in road risk areas).

By Melvyn Hodgetts, champion programme manager, Driving for Better Business.

For more information contact Melvyn at [email protected]

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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