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Fast learner: dealing with GDPR challenges

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After years of dealing with drivers’ speeding tickets, The Insider has recently had to deal with his own.

insider

The Insider

When speeding tickets for company drivers land on your desk, do you phone the driver and have a quick chat about what happened? If you’ve been in fleet as long as me, probably not. A few years in, I tired of hearing every common excuse – and a few really odd ones – followed by questions about exactly what timescale the police were allowed in which to issue tickets. So now we just fill in the required driver details and post off the Notice of Intended Prosecution.

Incidentally, with the approach of GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation) in May 2018, we are reviewing all our policies around release of personal information, since I’m told a simple tick box exercise to say a driver has read our rules won’t be sufficient in future.

Behind the scenes I do check whether the driver has any existing points, and as we perform regular licence checks, I’m confident our knowledge is up to date. If a driver reaches our policy points threshold, then they get a nice letter from their line manager and HR.

But recently, it was my doormat on which an NIP landed. I knew exactly where the offence occurred, on a popular trunk road. Too late I spotted the camera van, wedged up hard alongside the pillar of a bridge, just around a long bend. I had no sympathy for myself. I shouldn’t have been speeding, simple as.

But it gave me the opportunity to try out a speed awareness course, first hand. I was apprehensive on two counts. What sort of miscreants would I spend a morning with, and would the course tutors ask what I did for a living, which would be plain embarrassing? It turned out the rest of the class were people very much like me. Some a little older and crustier, a fifty-fifty mix of male and female, very few young people and absolutely no HGV, PSV nor van drivers. Everyone accepted they had been in the wrong and demonstrated a willingness to learn. I was interested to note the company car drivers in the room were terrified of losing their licences, and that their companies all had policies which insisted on six points or less. The tutors, one lady, one gentleman, were of course allowed none, and had no sympathy with any of us. And they were both complete petrolheads – in fact she had competed in Formula 2 in years gone by.

The course itself covered knowledge of speed limits – where most of us got something wrong, generally HGV-related – and parts of the Highway Code. In particular there was a major focus on braking distances from a variety of speeds, and I took away a big learning point from this. I’m a fleet manager, not a physicist, and whilst you may know that a car’s braking force isn’t linear, I didn’t. So at 5mph over the 70mph speed limit, and with the latter’s published stopping distance available to you (okay and good reactions, dry road and a well-maintained car), the additional 5mph could lead to you hitting whatever was in front, still doing 40mph. Sobering.

There was a hard-hitting section, broken down into groups around the room, where each group had to identify with being either the victim of a traffic accident, members of the victim’s family, the errant driver, or the errant driver’s family. The module was delivered thoughtfully, and with empathy, bearing in mind various people in the room had experienced that very situation first-hand. It was the module which brought the most feedback in the room afterwards.

Finally, there was an interactive section on hazard observation, and a time for reflection where we were asked to privately consider what we would take away from the sessions.

I didn’t hear one person have anything bad to say about the course afterwards, rather the opposite. I suppose they have been running long enough to get the content and delivery spot on. Looking at my own fleet data, I’m guessing the lack of additional, subsequent points for previous infringers who have attended this training suggests the course works.

And in case you were wondering, no, they didn’t ask any of us what we did for a living.

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