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ICFM Masterclass: Top six priorities for managing road risk

ICFM’s second Masterclass put the focus on managing work-related road safety, with fleets being urged to make a ‘cultural change’.

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Expert speakers Tony Harbron, Andy Phillips, ICM director Peter Eldridge and Kathy Halliday.

Held on Tuesday 6 June at the International Centre, Telford, alongside the Emergency Fleet Exhibition and the National Association of Police Fleet Managers’ Conference, the free event featured a number of expert speakers who outlined the reasons for prioritising occupational road risk management and how to make the change:

Company directors “foolish” not to manage business journeys

Delegates at the event were told there must be board-level buy-in to deliver an at-work driving safety culture across employers, but too often corporate attitudes and business operations failed to take into account occupational road risk management.

Lawyer Kathy Halliday, a partner at Veale Wasbrough Vizards, said company directors were “foolish” not to “carefully manage” employees making business-related journeys because they could be personally liable and disqualified from holding a board position in the event of legal action against them as individuals, as well as against the organisation.

Halliday said: “Managing occupational road risk is a key management responsibility and it should be elevated to board level.”

Explaining how the law applied to driving at work, she added that while the Health and Safety Executive’s ‘Managing Work-related Road Safety’ advice was ‘guidance’ she would view its best practice recommendations “as mandatory”.

Comprehensive road risk can bring significant financial gains

As well as the legal arguments, delegates at the event heard how the financial savings achieved by businesses from implementing an occupational road risk management policy were a very strong argument for taking action.

The government-backed Driving for Better Business campaign has calculated that based on a 10% return on sales, businesses would have to sell £60,000 worth of goods to cover the cost of a £3,000 crash.

Andy Phillips, director, risk management, at Hampshire-based Applied Driving Techniques, added: “Whatever an organisation’s motivation they will achieve cost savings, while also meeting their legal responsibilities and duty of care to employees and the general public.”
 
Drivers should be empowered not to drive if they don’t feel safe

Andy Phillips also told the Masterclass that however many policies and procedures are introduced, some level of responsibility must be with drivers, who must be educated on issues such as the dangers associated with the use of mobile phones while driving.

He added that if employees don’t feel safe to drive then they should be empowered to make decisions for themselves and not drive – in particular in businesses that operate in an environment that encouraged unsafe driving, such as sales departments where employees and managers were bonused according to the volume of business won.

Employers do not recognise vehicles as part of the workplace

ICFM director Peter Eldridge outlined the association’s view that too few employers recognise cars, including the ‘grey fleet’, and vans as an “extension of the workplace” and added that the level of “driver ownership and responsibility” has declined in the last 20 years.

Improvements in vehicle technology and build quality, he told Masterclass delegates, had made vehicles “more forgiving” and added: “Driver behaviour is getting worse, but their actions are disguised due to the performance of safety-related technology on vehicles. As a result, drivers are taking less responsibility for their actions, but the law is moving in the opposite direction.”

Eldridge added: “Staff recruitment and fleet policy must be joined together in terms of what is expected of employees when they are driving on business. The link to HR is critical, but too often the vehicle does not feature in that department’s thinking. That has to change if a cultural shift across businesses is to occur.”

Employers must make “smooth driving cool”

Tony Harbron, marketing director at in-vehicle driver behaviour technology provider Ashwoods Lightfoot, spoke to delegates on managing driver behaviour and said the way vehicles were driven was critical to companies facing the multiple challenges of reducing road risk, improving fuel economy and cutting emissions.

In particular, adopting a smooth driving style would immediately improve fuel consumption, reduce emissions and change the risk profile of drivers, said Harbron.

Good tyre management can have a “big impact” on road safety

Peter Wood, key account manager at Michelin, put the focus on choosing the “right tyre” for vehicles, which he said was critical to improving road safety.

Producing a raft of data to highlight the safety performance between different premium brand tyres, he revealed how tests had shown that the stopping distance of a vehicle could increase by up to four metres in wet braking conditions and urged delegates to use established tyre labelling advice promoting fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise performance in making their tyre selections.

The tyre manufacturer also said that tyre management is an important consideration in respect of occupational road risk. Tyre pressure surveys by Michelin found 38% of vehicles tested had either ‘very dangerously’ or ‘dangerously’ under-inflated tyres.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 14 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie works across the magazine portfolio and updates the company websites with daily news, interviews and road test content.