With UK roads in a constant state of flux amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial fleet owners face a renewed responsibility towards their own drivers, as well as other road users. With that in mind, we’re investigating ways fleet owners can reinforce road safety in 2020 and beyond.
But first, it’s worth looking at why that’s so important, – especially in the current climate.
The numbers behind the need
According to road safety charity Brake
, someone is either killed or seriously injured every 20 minutes on UK roads. That’s 1,850 deaths a year in the UK alone, or five a day on average – with serious injuries in excess of 25,000.
No wonder they go as far as calling it ‘a preventable epidemic’.
Further afield, a recent report
from The European Transport Safety Council states that in 2018, light and heavy goods vehicles accounted for 5,940 lives lost in police-reported road collisions.
Based on those stats, commercial road fleets account for around 25% of road deaths across the entire (pre-Brexit) European Union.
In 2020, it’s especially difficult to separate the human cost from the financial one. At a time when health, safety and loss have never been bigger national (and global!) concerns, every road accident presents both an avoidable tragedy, and a potentially crippling lawsuit.
As we move back and forth between differing states of lockdown, the stakes for commercial fleet owners have truly never been greater.
Ways fleet owners can improve road safety
When we last looked at this topic in 2018 , we explored five strategies for improving driver safety – all of which remain relevant today.
- Improve vehicle maintenance processes through preventative maintenance, regularly scheduled vehicle inspections, and recall monitoring. All of this can be achieved with the help of a fleet management company that offers a full vehicle management solution.
- Monitor driver behaviour using telematics – which we explored in more depth only last month. The big benefit is that, because telematics allows fleet managers to closely monitor driver habits, it makes drivers more accountable – and less likely to exceed the speed limit, or become distracted.
- Create a safe driving culture by rewarding the most improved drivers and by fostering a spirit of friendly competition within teams.
- Offer personalised training using data collected from driver’’s vehicles, giving employees better insight into their bad habits and how to improve them.
- Regularly communicate with drivers – either on a weekly basis, or by using briefings before they get behind the wheel.
While that information might be helpful, it doesn’t address the elephant in the room: life in 2020 is anything but normal.
It’s therefore also worth asking: what can fleet owners do to improve driver conduct and road safety in the middle of a pandemic?
Improving fleet safety in a COVID-19 world
There’s a clear link between driver stress and unsafe driving. Plenty of people respond to uncertainty with anxiety, which is linked to poor road positioning – a contributing factor to traffic accidents. On the other hand, those drivers who typically respond to stress with aggression instead are statistically more likely to commit formal road traffic violations, with speeding at the top of the list.
Of course, at the time of writing, drivers are more susceptible to stress than ever. So it’s particularly important to consider their mental and emotional states, and how you can help them adapt as this ‘new normal’ evolves.
Here’s what we suggest:
- Identify those most vulnerable to stress: You can measure this using the Fleet Driver Risk Index™.
- Offer additional support: If your workplace benefits scheme offers free counselling, this could be an ideal time to promote it. If not, now could be the time to look into it.
- Let your drivers know that their wellbeing matters: By reaching out to have one-to-one talks, by prioritising hygiene, and by making sure you offer appropriate PPE and clear directives around conduct, hygiene and social distancing.
- Keep workloads manageable: Even despite the added demands placed upon your fleet during the pandemic.
- Offer additional training: With people stuck indoors more than ever, this is a unique opportunity to help your drivers brush up on the theory behind their craft. That’s why we’ve partnered with Applied Driving Techniques to offer a series of free online driver training modules.
At SG Fleet, we’re here to help and support you through lockdown and beyond. Whether you want to explore how you can improve your fleet’s road safety, or you’re interested in the free training mentioned above, please do get in touch. Call us on 0344 854 5100, or email CSalmon@sgfleet.com