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5 key ways to stay safe on the roads

At a glance

  • Companies that are committed to reducing collisions involving their drivers should investigate the root cause of every major incident
  • Zurich’s research suggests the price of fuel may have an impact on collision figures (see our infographic for more detail)
  • Zurich has identified five key ways that brokers can help their customers manage fleet risk

Work-related road collisions cost UK employers £2.7 billion every year, while across the European Union, road collisions account for 39% of all work-related deaths.

With statistics like these, it is vital that employers do all they can to minimise the risk of collisions involving their employees.

From assessment and training to technology, there are a host of tools available to help brokers’ customers reduce their motor fleet risk. However, it takes an overarching motor risk management strategy to effectively and sustainably reduce risk and bring all these elements together.

Andy Price, Practice Leader-EMEA, Motor Fleet at Zurich, outlines five key components of any fleet risk strategy.

1. Fleet risk management

The most important part of any company’s fleet risk strategy is management.

In addition to having robust fleet risk management and driver safety policies and procedures, managers should consider carefully how their company’s operational procedures impact on driver performance.

Zurich fuel price

For example, if sales staff are asked to make multiple appointments in a day, and these are not arranged in a way that minimises time spent travelling between them, or if travelling time (and contingency to allow for delays) is not taken into account, this could potentially be an operational barrier to safe driving. Staff may drive less safely in order to arrive at an appointment on time if they have not allowed sufficient travelling time.

“You can have the best driver safety procedures in the world, but if you don’t have the right operational procedures, you are unlikely to significantly reduce your fleet risk,” says Andy.

2. Minimising distracted driving

Eating, drinking, smoking and talking to passengers can all distract drivers, but mobile phones pose a particularly significant distraction risk.

Drivers using a phone are four times more likely to be involved in a collision. Studies have also shown that even when using hands-free phones, drivers’ reaction times are 50% slower.

“Employees may also be tempted to use their phones for personal use while driving, for example to access social media, so there needs to be clear communication on the dangers this poses, too.”

3. Telematics and technology

New technologies are helping to reduce the risk of collisions. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems, for example, use radar, lasers and cameras to monitor the road ahead and can automatically apply the brakes if they spot a hazard. Research shows AEB systems have led to a 38% reduction in rear-end collisions in Europe and Australasia.

Vehicles fitted with lane departure warning systems can alert a driver if they are veering into the wrong lane; some newer models can even automatically steer the vehicle back into the correct lane.

In addition, vehicles fitted with telematics devices can give companies useful data about driver behaviour, such as speeding, harsh braking and cornering.

Andy says: “If telematics reveals a driver was going too fast, they might need additional training. However, it could equally be they were trying to achieve a business objective, or they were distracted because of a stressful situation in their business or personal life.

“It’s therefore vital to use this data to identify the root cause of exceptions and trends from the telemetry data, so that the line manager can address any underlying issues and reduce future exposure to these risks.”

4. On-road safety culture

Andy explains: “If a driver makes an error on the road, it doesn’t normally end in a crash, and every time this happens their brain reinforces the idea that their behaviour wasn’t risky. That’s why most people believe they are driving to a high standard. Developing a strong on-road safety culture requires every employee to accept they are probably not a perfect driver – which isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.

“You have to get people to realise they are not necessarily the best drivers in the world.”

A fleet risk management success story

Zurich Risk Engineering has been working with global information storage and management company, Iron Mountain, since 2008. Iron Mountain operates 190 vans and 140 trucks in the UK and Ireland.

Zurich began by conducting an in-depth fleet safety review, to understand the effectiveness of Iron Mountain’s current fleet risk management programme and identify areas for improvement. The relationship then developed from the assessment stage through to risk reduction collaboration and on-going measurement.

Specific actions, after the fleet safety review have included helping Iron Mountain to develop a team of in-house driver trainers, implement online assessments, carry out online driving licence checks and the introduction of telematics to measure driver behaviour and performance.

The results: a 74% reduction in incidents, a 63% reduction in own damage and third party costs, estimated fuel savings of over 7% and a reduction in maintenance costs of 4.5%. In addition, Iron Mountain has enjoyed several premium reductions.

Brokers can find out more about Zurich’s partnership with Iron Mountain here.

A comprehensive ongoing strategy is critical to developing a strong driving safety culture. This could include regular communications to staff giving safety advice, such as the importance of checking tyre pressures, or discussing seasonal risks such as leaves on the road in autumn, or icy conditions in winter.

Some companies find that building a road safety culture through driver of the year competitions, or organising promotions to coincide with events such as Road Safety Week, can help make their drivers more aware of the risks they face when travelling on business.

5. Post-collision debrief

Following a significant collision, it is important that companies identify any underlying factors that might have made the collision more likely.

Companies will not have time for detailed analysis of every minor collision, so they must establish criteria for which types of incidents will require an in-depth debrief – e.g. incidents causing significant damage, or involving drivers who have been involved in previous collisions.

“Once you understand the root cause of an incident, you need to do something about it,” adds Andy. “And if you have identified a root cause, that’s a good opportunity to share the insight with the rest of the company.”

How Zurich can help

Zurich is committed to offering its customers a wide range of solutions to help reduce their motor fleet risk – from fleet safety reviews and line manager training to online assessments and, where necessary, in-vehicle coaching.

Brokers can find out more about the options for their commercial customers here or by speaking to their local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

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