We’ve all been in a rush when we’re driving. Whether you’re trying to get home in time for dinner, running late to meet a friend, or trying to make it to the shops before they shut, driving and time pressure go hand in hand more often than we’d like.
But when you are driving for work, there are a whole new set of pressures. There are deadlines and appointments to meet, and it could influence your bonus or the outcome of your next appraisal. This has resulted in a worrying situation for driver safety: 20 people are killed every week while driving for work-related reasons, and a further 250 are injured. According to RoSPA, people who drive a lot for work could be more at risk than people working in traditionally high-risk occupations like mining and construction.
That’s why there’s an increasing focus from the government and regulatory bodies to make sure that businesses help drivers stay safe on the road. In an increasingly competitive business environment, this is no easy task. This responsibility is sometimes neglected in smaller fleets – in fact, less than a third (32%) of small fleets monitor the speed of their vehicles, according to a new report from road safety charity Brake.
We all know the dangers of speeding: less time to react, worse collisions, less control in unfavourable conditions. But speeding is not just an isolated safety matter. It also increases other bad habits, such as driving too close or driving when tired. This is also a cost issue – speeding, idling and stopping and starting regularly use more fuel than careful driving and cause excessive wear and tear on the vehicle. Fuel use and maintenance account for 30% of the cost of a vehicle, over the course of five years of ownership.
Luckily, newer fleet management systems allow drivers to take matters into their own hands – at least partly. While information about driving habits will still be fed back to managers, in-cab systems also provide you with immediate feedback when driving. Alerts let you know about incidents on the road, such as breaking harshly or going over the speed limit. That way, you can sort it out and improve your own driving without interference, keeping yourself safer on the road and cutting fuel use.
Not only that, but it helps you prevent incidents that might lead to fines or points on your licence. This is more important than ever now, due to new government measures targeting bad habits, like tail-gaiting, with on-the-spot fines. Simultaneously, penalties for some existing offences are on the rise – including a steep rise in fines for speeding or failing to stop at a red light, from £60 to £100. These new rules come about in a concerning context: in 2013, for the first time in years, road deaths are back on the rise.
For all these reasons, tracking is something that fleet of all sizes can’t afford to ignore any longer. In-cab feedback is a key part of this, putting you in charge of your own safety at the wheel.
Here’s the measures that businesses can take to make sure the fleet is safe – and managers and drivers need to be vigilant in making sure they happen:
- Install telematics systems and view the reports regularly to identify issues early, gain the information drivers and managers need to address problems, and fulfil legal obligations.
- Plan properly, taking into account traffic and adverse weather conditions. or insist on proper planning if someone else does it. This helps you to make sure you are working the right number of hours, are taking breaks while driving long distances (at least 15 minutes every 2 hours), and that deadlines are realistic.
- Request training if you know you have a bad habit, but don’t know how to sort it out. Employers have a responsibility to provide it.
These are important basics, but there’s much more to maintaining a safe fleet. Keep an eye out for our new fleet safety checklist, coming out later this month.
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