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UK 'Business Champion' fleet dials in to win top European safety award.

10 May 2010

British Telecom, which is the vanguard of championing occupational road safety in the UK, is the first winner of the European Transport Safety Council’s ‘Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees’ (PRAISE) Award.

BT, one of Europe’s largest fleets with around 43,000 company cars, light commercial vehicles and HGVs, is already a ‘Driving for Better Business’ campaign ‘business champion’ - a safe-driving initiative backed by the Department for Transport and delivered by RoadSafe.

Caroline Scurr, director of the ‘Driving for Better Business’ campaign, said: “It is tremendous recognition for the campaign that one of our foremost ‘business champions’ has won such a prestigious award.”

PRAISE aims to increase road safety in the work context and ‘praise’ best practices in order to help employers secure high road safety standards for their employees. It is estimated that in Europe six out of ten work accidents resulting in death are road crashes, including both crashes while driving for work and commuting crashes.

In the UK there is an estimated up to 200 road deaths and serious injuries a week resulting from crashes involving at work drivers, and more employees are killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads while driving on behalf of their employer than in any other work-related activity.

The PRAISE Award was received at a ceremony in Brussels by BT’s safety advisor for travel and transport Tony Holt, who said: “Key to BT’s road safety management is the lesson learnt that there are no silver bullets in fleet safety.”

Further underlining the ‘Driving for Better Business’ campaign’s partnership with BT is that both Dr Will Murray, research director at Interactive Driving Systems, and Andy Price, practice leader - motor fleet, Zurich Risk Engineering UK, are members of the initiative’s Stakeholder Forum, whose membership is composed of key organisations of national standing that promote work-related road safety and exist to lower the risk of collisions and injuries on the UK’s roads.

Since BT’s Health and Safety Group identified driving as its biggest and most expensive risk the company has developed a strategic programme leading to a range of ground-breaking initiatives to manage driver safety.

BT works closely with both Interactive Driving Systems and insurance company Zurich and latest analysis reveals that the company has cut its collision rate from over 60 per 1,000 vehicles in 2001 to 30 in 2009, reducing costs by approximately £12 million per annum in the process.

This has been achieved through a range of initiatives including:
• Policy and communications based on the latest research from around the globe
• Management development and engagement
• Europe’s biggest ever driver risk assessment, monitoring and improvement program touching over 65,000 people
• Improved vehicle selection and management
• Effective journey planning and management
• Community engagement through its family and friends road safety initiative
• Thought leadership though participation in fleet safety benchmarking, government initiatives, industry events and best practice programs such as ‘Driving for Better Business’ and the NIOSH global road safety for workers project.

Ms Scurr said: “BT, like many of our ‘business champions’ can prove that reducing the number of crashes involving at work drivers saves thousands and, in the case of large fleets such as BT, millions of pounds. In addition, cutting the number of road crashes improves business efficiency and the image of an organisation.

“Effective management of those who drive for work is an important element of general management - if it isn’t addressed properly, the negative impact on profit can be very significant.

“Additionally, BT has significantly improved employee well-being as a result of engaging with them on at-work driving safety. The result is complete legal compliance and a measurable contribution to business efficiency with savings that go straight to the bottom line.”

The campaign now has 43 ‘business champions’ across the public and private sectors ranging from organisations that operate just a handful of vehicles to those that operate thousands such as BT, British Gas and the Royal Mail.

• A comprehensive case study on the BT fleet is available here.

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