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Why risk your business reputation over failing to make basic safety checks?

A new report has revealed UK businesses are failing to make basic checks to ensure the safety of employees who drive for work, including failings to check for valid driving licences and business insurance. Simon Turner, campaign manager, Driving for Better Business, looks at the findings.

Simon Turner, campaign manager, Driving for Better Business

The odds of winning the National Lottery are a vanishingly small one in 49 million, yet still, every week, millions of people think it might be them. The odds of someone who drives for work being involved in an injury collision is just one in 500 yet neither the drivers, nor the companies that employ them, think it’s going to be them. An air of misplaced confidence often makes them think it is something that happens to others, despite the fact that a number of surprisingly common gaps in management policy could make it even more likely.

The risks associated with ineffective driving for work policies

Ineffective driving for work policies can affect every aspect of your business. Without the correct risk management of those who drive for work. your business’s reputation could be damaged, along with the health and safety of your employees. Therefore, comprehensive driving for work policies and the effective communication of such policies are essential to maintaining the reputations of not just the business, but those who are running it.

Business reputation can directly affect your financial position as well as the trust of customers in your brand – making it a critical component to the overall success of the company. The increase in the ways in which people communicate with one another involving multiple social and digital platforms, has meant businesses that employ those who drive for work purposes must now more than ever ensure they have robust driving for work policies implemented to protect reputations. A crash involving a liveried vehicle can be, and often is, shared widely across social media within minutes and, subsequently, picked up by national online and broadcast news networks.

What are the concerns for businesses who employ people who drive for work?

Unlike the risks of driving in general – such as speeding, using a mobile phone, driving under the influence or adverse weather conditions – the impact and requirements regarding driving for work are unfamiliar to many people.

A study of 255 UK company directors, endorsed by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and commissioned by Driving for Better Business (DfBB) – the government-backed Highways England programme to help employers reduce work-related road risk – examined how businesses are navigating the challenges that work-related road risk presents.

Mobile phone use whilst driving is one of the key causes for accidents and poor driving behaviour. Despite this, our research shows concerning attitudes and expectations of company directors, with 49% expecting their employees to answer their phone at any time, including while driving for work. Such a lack of knowledge around the implications of poor management of those who drive for work could adversely affect business reputation – especially if there is a collision due to non-compliance whilst driving a company vehicle.

The research also highlights a large proportion of executive directors do not fully grasp their legal responsibilities for managing staff who drive for work and how they should effectively communicate the requirements for safe driving. In fact, 40% of the car, van and lorry drivers we surveyed admit to driving while they are tired due to busy work schedules. Driving whilst fatigued is an increasing problem, contributing to around 20% of all collisions on UK’s roads. Not only can fatigue cause dangerous microsleeps while at the wheel, but it can also impact the driver’s alertness to potential risks and be a catalyst for stress and irritability.

Protecting your business reputation whilst reaping the business benefits

Effective driving for work policies and championing strong leadership of those who drive for work can result in many business benefits as well as protecting a business’s reputation. Such driving for work policies will include ensuring drivers are able to identify the signs of fatigue and are made aware of the company’s policy on mobile phone use, in addition to guidance on acceptable time and distance limits for journeys.

Although our report highlighted issues of poor management, the findings also show that the majority of company directors review their driving for work policy every eight months. This provides an opportunity for company directors to make continual improvements.

With good management of employees who drive for work, businesses can benefit from; a significant reduction in driving incidents and operational costs, improved sustainability from better fuel efficiency and lower emissions, increases in productivity and efficiency, improved staff safety and wellbeing and improved confidence in the company’s compliance – boosting a company’s reputation among customers, employees and stakeholders.

The impact of a robust driving for work policy

Risk assessments and basic checks for employees who drive for work can help protect business reputation whilst reaping tangible business benefits.

The benefits of a robust driving for work policy have been witnessed across a number of companies who have implemented good practice through engaging with Driving for Better Business, reducing work-related road risk, decreasing associated costs and improving compliance with current legislation and guidance.

Construction giant Amey’s commitment to driving for work good practice over a 12-18-month period has resulted in business benefits such as, a reduction in at-fault incidents (38%), a reduction in CO2 emissions (6%), and an increase in fleet utilisation (30%).

For data management firm Iron Mountain, safety is at the top of its agenda. The processes and procedures put in place by the Fleet Safety Team are continually utilised across all geographies. By adopting a very structured auditing process to ensure compliance, the organisation is able to focus on continuous improvement across all aspects of operations. By implementing good practice in managing those who drive for work, Iron Mountain has seen a 78% reduction in damage costs, a 30% reduction in maintenance costs, and a 79% reduction in driver prosecutions over the past 9 years.

Engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald has actually managed to reduce the number of employees who drive for work by 35% – including some of the highest mileage drivers – through the use of state-of-the-art videoconferencing technology. This has reduced its fuel spend by 50%, and its carbon footprint by 1500 tonnes a year.

To help organisations identify the gaps in management of those who drive for work, Driving for Better Business is hosting a free online tool. For more information please visit: https://www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com

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