Focus turned on fleet driver safety

The industry has come together to discuss ways to reduce work-related road collisions.

Fleet chiefs and industry associations along with the Department for Transport, Highways England and insurance company representatives held a ‘Driving for Work Summit’ to further accelerate the take-up of initiatives by employers to reduce employee collisions on the road.

The Summit, hosted by the team behind the Driving for Better Business (DfBB) campaign which aids the Department for Transport’s ambition to support and promote good practice in safer fleet management and occupational road safety, was the forerunner to a major new work-related road safety initiative scheduled for launch in the spring.

Highways England, the public sector company owned by the government focused on operating, maintaining and modernising England’s strategic road network, is working with the campaign team to finalise a three-year programme that will engage a wide-range of stakeholders, including businesses and the public sector as well as government.

The Summit saw fleet chiefs from a range of safety-focused employers including vehicle leasing and fleet management company Arval, Essex County Council, Michelin, Network Rail, Skanska, Tesco and Wolsley as well as representatives of ACFO, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association and the Freight Transport Association exchange views and identify ways to more effectively encourage better occupational road safety, fleet management and procurement.

Also involved in the Summit were senior representatives of many other work-related road safety-focused organisations including Health and Safety Executive, HDI Global, IAM RoadSmart, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Thatcham Research, TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), Transport Safety Commission and Zurich Insurance.

Many of the ideas and initiatives discussed will be fed into the forthcoming campaign, which critically picks up on recommendations outlined in the Transport Safety Commission’s March 2015 report ‘UK Transport Safety: Who Is Responsible?’ and the government’s December 2015 road safety statement ‘Working Together To Build A Safer Road System’.

Key priorities outlined in those two reports included working with employers to reduce road collisions at work, including HGVs; encouraging uptake of safer cars; and recognition by the Health and Safety Executive, employers and government that work-related road casualties is a collective responsibility.

Further initiatives will encourage more fleets to use the online Fleet Safety Benchmarking project, which was launched last year and has so far been used by more than 100 businesses. Benchmarking is viewed as a highly effective way of improving corporate road safety.

Major fleets are also encouraged to cascade their road safety expertise and programmes through the supply chain to smaller companies, while fleets are also encouraged to select cars with safety features such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technology and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

The ‘Working Together To Build A Safer Road System’ report calculated that the cost of road collisions to individuals, society and the economy was in excess of £16.3bn per year.

Adrian Walsh, executive director of RoadSafe, which is working closely with Highways England to deliver the DfBB campaign, said, ‘Around a third of road traffic collisions involve a person at work, so there is clearly more that can be done by public and private sector fleets working together and in tandem with employers’ organisations, government and its agencies and road safety experts to support and promote good practice.

‘Much information and advice is available and this Summit focused on how that knowledge can be made more readily available. Our new programme is intended to accelerate the uptake of road safety initiatives by major fleets and SMEs operating company cars, ‘grey fleet’ and light vans to reduce the number of collisions involving drivers on business journeys.’