All UK employers have a duty of care to employees, obliging them legally to take reasonable precautions to prevent staff being exposed to avoidable safety risks while at work. It is therefore incumbent upon fleet managers to take pro-active steps to improve road safety.
A fleet safety strategy is important in this regard as it provides a safety framework for the whole organisation. When developing a fleet safety strategy, a holistic approach is required. This can be divided into three key areas:
- The process: including driver training and debriefing
- The use of technology: such as telematics and dashboard cameras
- The application of incentives: e.g. driver league tables, remuneration and reward schemes
Technological advances have provided fleet managers with a detailed picture of the way drivers and vehicles perform. These insights should form the foundation of a fleet safety strategy, and should continue to inform that strategy’s implementation and monitoring.
Q: What is driver behaviour data?
A: Driver behaviour data, collected by telematics systems, gives a detailed picture of an individual driver’s performance while behind the wheel. It provides fleet managers with hard evidence of that driver’s conduct, whether positive or negative. The data can be used to highlight a range of dangerous or undesirable driver behaviours, including excessive speeding, harsh braking, rough cornering or tailgating. It enables fleet managers to get a crystal-clear view of how drivers behave without having to personally sit inside the vehicle with them. They can then put this data to work with a view to improving fleet safety standards.
Q: How is this information relevant to fleet safety?
A: This is important with regard to fleet safety because it can be used to establish patterns of collective high-risk behaviours. Using this data, fleets can develop training programmes tailored to address individual needs or those shared by different members of the driving workforce. What’s more, because the data is clear and unambiguous, it allows fleet managers to present concrete proof of where improvements are needed during the driver debriefing process. If applied correctly, this data can therefore be used to drive up driver performance standards – crucial to delivering meaningful improvements to fleet safety.
Q: How can telematics help to monitor improvements in driver performance?
A: It is crucial to ensure ongoing monitoring of driver performance. This makes it possible to observe the success (or otherwise) of driver training programmes. Without reliable information in this area, it becomes difficult to adequately assess whether training schemes are effective in addressing and eliminating dangerous or undesirable driver behaviours. Telematics systems provide data which can enable fleet managers to monitor drivers’ progress as they undertake particular training schemes. Those which appear to deliver improvements in driver conduct can then be rolled out more widely where appropriate.
Q: What can fleet managers do to incentivise safe driver behaviour?
A: A degree of healthy and friendly competition can be highly effective in encouraging standards of driver conduct and improving fleet safety across the board. One good way of incentivising safe driver conduct would be to establish a league table ranking drivers according to safe driving metrics, with data derived via telematics. Drivers could then be rewarded according to how well they’ve performed on the road. Different rewards should be offered – not just to the overall safest driver but also, for example, to the drivers who have made the most substantial improvements in particular areas. A positive approach such as this can be more effective than sanctions and punishment of drivers who fail to meet certain standards, although the latter may be necessary for persistent or serious safety breaches.