BLOG: Education’s what you need

MARK HADAWAY: It’s cold (-3 degree C), it’s dark (5.45am) and it’s frosty yet the driver behind me, who is sat feet from my rear bumper, is clearly very confident in their own ability, and their vehicle, to stop on a sixpence should the need arise… I, however, am not so sure.

Now, before we get too embroiled in the subject matter at hand, let’s put a few issues to bed:

  • Yes, I was driving within the speed limit and, I believe, appropriate to the conditions
  • No, I hadn’t done anything untoward to provoke this type of road ‘bullying’

So, putting aside my immediate thoughts on this type of ‘aggressive’ driving (most of which would not be publishable) I considered instead how can this type of reckless driving be tackled and it struck me that drivers need to be aware and educated more on the potential consequences of their actions… and the collision repair community could well have a lead role to play in that.

Now, anyone who has ever been involved in a car accident, may or may not have memories of a positive experience post-accident, but chances are high those individuals are now a little more aware of how quickly things can change on the road – and, in many cases, it has a major impact on how they subsequently drive. But without everyone having ‘on the road experience’ of an accident – although that could be pretty lucrative for the accident repair sector – the message needs to get out there that cars or, more precisely, drivers can be dangerous.

The government has recognised something needs to be done with proposals that dangerous drivers who kill will face life sentences for the first time under a new crackdown. But this reactive approach is already too late for the individuals involved – the volume really needs to be turned-up around preventable actions. Yes, vehicle technology is going to have a big part to play in this but even the best AEB in the world wouldn’t have prevented the individual sat on my rear bumper causing a fairly hefty whack!

So is there an opportunity for bodyshops to open their doors and invite people in to show them what happens when vehicles collide, explain scenarios, advise on driving behaviours etc Show off your expertise, sell your people and business to the public and help them to help themselves. I’m sure there are organisations out there that can and would help. It’s a marketer’s dream.

And consider this: insurance is a grudge purchase, it’s a legal requirement, no one ever intends to use it and, arguably, nine times out 10 should anyone be involved in an accident, no one knows quite which way to turn anyway. Immediately therefore, a traumatic experience becomes an ‘unknown’ journey into a whole new world – one of which most never even knew existed. I’m a customer who is already ‘on the back foot’ and what I really need right now is that ‘hug’ that says ‘I’m here to hold your hand, this is what we will do and this is the way we do it for the benefit of everyone.’ And if I know who’s providing that ‘hug’ already, then I’m already a ‘happy’ customer.

And for those worried that it might be cutting off your nose to spite your face by promoting safe driving… I suggest you ignore this idea and just carry on doing things how they have always been done – the clock is ticking!