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Fleets accelerate occupational road risk management focus reveals new survey

6 August 2008

Fleet decision-makers are getting to grips with the complex demands of implementing a comprehensive occupational road risk management policy, according to the results of a major survey conducted by fast-fit giant Kwik-Fit Fleet in conjunction with RoadSafe.

Published to coincide with the summer issue of RoadSafe magazine, the survey of 97 fleets running in excess of 250,000 company cars and vans revealed that 86% of companies had policies and procedures in place.

Adrian Walsh, director of RoadSafe, a partnership of leading companies in the motor and transport industries in Britain, the Government and road safety professionals which promotes safer road use, said: “I am delighted that so many of the companies surveyed have introduced at-work driving safety related measures.

“However, there is no room for complacency. Many of the UK’s largest and well-known companies have taken steps to reduce their road risk exposure, data continues to highlight that around 200 people a week are killed or injured on the roads in the course of their work. That is far too many.”

The majority of those policies (64%) had been signed off by the board of directors with all companies surveyed claiming to have driver licence checking as one of their key procedures.

Other safety focused initiatives adopted by respondents included: identifying ‘high’ risk drivers (79%), on-the-road and office-based driver training (65%), investigating the cause of crashes involving staff to avoid repeat incidents (65%) and online driving assessments for staff (42%).

There was also almost 100% awareness of the potential impact of the recently introduced Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act on rogue fleet operations, while three-quarters of respondents said they were aware that company directors could be jailed for failing to suitably protect staff driving on company business in the event of a crash.

Interestingly, the majority of respondents (55%) said the legal implications of an at-work driver being involved in a road crash was the single biggest factor in prompting their company to implement at-work driving policies. Just over a quarter of fleets (29%) said there were moral reasons, while only 14% pointed to the financial savings that could be achieved as a result of vehicles being involved in fewer road crashes.

Importantly, as recommended in the Department for Transport/Health and Safety Executive’s document ‘Driving at work - Managing Work-related Road Safety’ guidance, which has been dubbed the ‘bible’ for managing all at-work drivers, many companies have also adopted duty of care policies with key suppliers. Best practice recommends that vehicles are checked regularly by a ‘competent person’ to ensure they are safe.

Almost two-thirds of fleets surveyed have duty of care policies in place with their leasing/fleet management company; more than half have signed off policies with their daily rental provider; around a third have put in place policies with their accident management company and supplying dealers, while bodyshops (29%) and fast-fits (19%) also figure.

Three-quarters of fleet chiefs also said they ensured that manufacturer recall notices were followed up on drivers’ cars. While more than half (55%) have introduced regular car safety checks - such as those offered by Kwik-Fit Fleet - to ensure that tyres are legal and tyre pressure levels and fluid levels are correct.

The survey also found that businesses are becoming increasingly aware that they must ensure their occupational road risk management policies also embrace staff who drive their own cars on business - the so-called ‘grey’ fleet.

In the last nine months a number of other surveys have revealed the ‘grey’ fleet to be a significant area of weakness in corporate road safety policies, but the Kwik-Fit Fleet research discovered that 76% of companies asked to view paperwork relating to vehicle servicing, MoTs and business insurance.

In addition around half of companies have decided to allow staff that don’t have a company car to hire a vehicle for a business trip rather than use their own car.

Finally, just 5% of companies responding to the survey said they did not have an at-work driving mobile phone use policy. However, of the 95% who do have a policy in place, more than half (54%) have banned all phone use - hands-free as well as hand-held - while on the move.

Mike Wise, head of Kwik-Fit Fleet, which supports RoadSafe, said: “The importance of companies managing occupational road risk has never been more in the spotlight. The Government, police and Health and Safety Executive are all focused on driving down the number of road crashes involving at-work drivers.

“While the survey highlights that many fleets are actively taking steps to reduce their crash risk exposure there is no room for complacency. It is also important that all those companies that have implemented best practice, work to enlighten those that have yet to act.”