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Latest road casualty figures are a call to arms

Beverley Wise, sales director UK & Ireland, TomTom Telematics, on how latest road casualty figures make road risk management more pertinent than ever for fleets.

Beverley Wise, sales director UK & Ireland, TomTom Telematics

Fleet managers have had much on their mind of late.

How will they cope with fuel costs hitting a four-year high, the increased financial burden of the new emissions testing regime, the removal of the plug-in hybrid subsidy and the cutting of discounts for all-electric cars?

How will they contend with the prospect of increased vehicle costs and burgeoning red-tape in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

It would come as little surprise if these pressing matters caused fleet businesses to lose sight of key road risk management considerations, as they focus on their bottom line.

However, in light of the latest road casualty figures revealing stagnation in road safety improvements, the call for companies to take greater control of fleet risk should now be louder than ever.

There were 1,793 reported road deaths in 2017, according to the latest announcement from the Department for Transport1. This represents an increase of one from 2016 and a decrease of just 57 since 2010.

The HSE estimates that more than a quarter of all road traffic incidents involve somebody who is driving as part of their work – and this statistic resonates all the stronger when considered alongside research from TomTom Telematics2. This found that more than a fifth (21%) of UK companies, whose employees drive for work purposes, have no road safety policy in place.

The importance of integrating work-related road safety into wider health and safety at work arrangements cannot be overestimated. While not doing so exposes a company to serious legal and reputational costs, there is also an immediate financial case for implementing effective initiatives. Vehicle off-road time, maintenance and insurance cost increases can all have a considerable impact on business profitability.

It starts with fostering the appropriate culture. Driving should be positioned as a potentially risky activity that necessitates care and respect, rather than a straightforward, undemanding, everyday task. This includes establishing expected standards for vehicles and driver performance – and ensuring these are communicated regularly and effectively to employees.

Remedial action calls for identifying where road safety may be being compromised – and accurate risk profiling is now possible thanks to advances in fleet management technology and the extensive data insights generated by telematics.

Incidents of speeding or harsh braking, acceleration, or corning, for example, can be monitored and drivers scored based on their performance behind the wheel. Advancements have also opened the door to direct driver feedback, improved opportunities for employee engagement and targeted coaching where and when it’s required.

There can be no excuses for safety management falling down the corporate agenda. Such steps to protect vital business assets – both human and material – should be paramount to fulfilling duty of care responsibilities, protecting profitability while, at the same time, minimising business disruption for optimal service delivery.

 

1Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2017 annual report

HSE, Driving at Work, 2014

2TomTom Telematics Road safety research, July 2017

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.