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Q&A: DfBB’s Simon Turner on the changing face of risk management

Simon Turner, campaign manager, Driving for Better Business (DfBB), on how an evolving fleet industry is bringing new road risk management challenges.

Simon Turner, campaign manager, Driving for Better Business

Simon Turner, campaign manager, Driving for Better Business

Have you seen any emerging trends that are changing the way employers manage work-related road risk?

The key change we’re seeing is an increasing move towards companies managing ‘mobility’ rather than simply fleet. This is certainly apparent in larger fleets where they are looking more closely at a whole range of options to ensure their workforce is as safe and productive as possible.

Another key trend is the focus organisations are taking to reduce the impact they are having on the environment with fuel use and emissions. This trend is leading employers to look at all sorts of options including better control of grey fleet risk by looking at other options such as short-term rental, car clubs, video conferencing and public transport. Safe Sustainable Mobility is a phrase you’re going to hear a lot more of over the next few years.

Thirdly, employers are taking a genuine concern for their employees. We all know that, historically, road safety often isn’t an issue high on management agendas, however we’re seeing more and more organisations realise that occupational road risk needs to be treated with the same level of focus as general occupational safety. They’re also realising that driver health and wellbeing is an important part of the mix too. So, while legal compliance is important, and the financial benefits of good management are very welcome, employers are increasing putting more effort into managing occupational road risk well simply because it is the right and responsible thing to do.

How important is grey fleet to a business and how should it be managed?

For many businesses it’s a vital part of the overall mobility picture. The problem is that, managed poorly, a grey fleet still poses a host of problems for employers such as much older vehicles with less safety equipment and poorer performance on fuel economy and emissions. There is a greater risk to the business from not managing it properly and, often, a lack of knowledge on how to do so. There is also a significant cost issue to the business from staff making unnecessary journeys or overclaiming their mileage.

Managed well, however, grey fleet can still be a highly effective element of a mobility solution. More companies are realising they have to include grey fleet drivers in their policies and procedures. We’re seeing companies dictate maximum age and emission levels to ensure staff are using appropriate cars; companies are setting maximum journey distances for grey fleet above which the driver must use a rental, pool or club car if they must drive; and even different mileage claim rates to encourage use of public transport so if you could have easily made the journey by train, the pence per mile rate is much lower.

What other areas should fleet operators be looking at?

There is a lot of focus at the moment on vehicle roadworthiness. Police forces around the country are increasingly working alongside other agencies such as the DVSA, HSE, HM Revenue & Customs and Highways England on initiatives that are identifying large numbers of non-compliant business drivers and commercial vehicles with significant safety-critical defects. One such initiative recently found an average of two offences per vehicle/driver.

While the driver is ultimately responsible for his or her behaviour on the road, as well as the roadworthiness of the vehicle, the police and the judiciary are increasingly aware that drivers are not always wholly at fault. Poor management and work procedures can be a significant contributory factor and in serious incidents, where poor management is identified, directors are being called to account.
Employers therefore need to address these challenges urgently and make sure their vehicle checking and maintenance regimes are fit for purpose.

How does the Driving for Better Business programme help employers with these issues?

We have a lot of new case studies on the website from our Business Champions who are managing these challenges really well. They show just how these companies manage often complex fleets and detail the impressive business benefits they’ve seen from doing so.

Amey is one such Champion. James Haluch, managing director of Amey Highways, said: “Adopting the Driving for Better Business framework helped us reduce ‘at fault’ incidents by 38%”. And that was in just one year – Amey also improved its fleet utilisation by a staggering 30% which had a huge positive effect on overall business performance.

We’ve also developed a new simple seven-step process, which is free to register on, to help businesses get started, with free resources and information along the way to help them improve the way they manage occupational road risk.

Hundreds of organisations, including some of the country’s largest and best-known fleets, have signed up to support Driving for Better Business. Those fleets currently on the seven-step process collectively manage almost half a million drivers and over 300,000 vehicles – figures which are growing every week as new firms sign up.

What does the future hold for DfBB?

We’re currently focusing on promoting strong leadership in the management of work-related road risk, and encouraging organisations that manage it well to demand higher standards of their supply chain companies and others in their business networks.

We’ve just held two amazing summits, one for leaders in the public sector at the House of Commons in January where we called on public sector organisations to ensure potential suppliers were managing work-related road risk in line with the law before they were awarded valuable public sector contracts.

The second, held in May at the McLaren Thought Leadership Centre, was for leaders in the private sector. Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, spoke about how they are now raising standards throughout the highways sector supply chain. The rail sector is also now following suit.

With the highways and rail sectors adopting the Driving for Better Business framework, and other sectors set to follow, and support coming from the DfT, HSE and DVSA among many others, companies need to realise it will become ever more difficult to win work if you can’t prove your occupational road risk is being managed to a high standard. The good news is that our website has all the resources and case studies necessary for employers to get started and to keep improving – and it’s all free to access.

The DfBB mission is to help employers in both the private and public sectors reduce work-related road risk and ensure compliance. Ultimately, this makes the roads safer for everyone and at the same time brings with it many benefits for businesses: the question is why would you not take advantage of the programme?

You can register your organisation online now at www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com.

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