By Simon Turner, Campaign Manager, Driving for Better Business
The business cost of not taking accountability for work-related road risk
With road transport at the heart of the British economy, work related road risk is an issue that affects almost every business in the UK. The country’s Strategic Road Network (SRN) comprises approximately 4,400 miles of road (1,865 miles of motorway and 2,571 miles of trunk roads) and although it accounts for just two per cent of roads in England, the SRN carries a third of all road traffic and two-thirds of freight traffic. That’s a huge volume of essential traffic on England’s motorways and A-roads every day.
Many SME owners and C-suite decision makers will have employees and suppliers that will use the Strategic Road Network. In fact, research carried out by Driving for Better Business (DfBB) shows that over 83 per cent of businesses use the Strategic Road Network, yet not all will be aware of the cost implications associated with work-related road risks and the impact it can have on their companies.
Very often, organisations fail to recognise work-related road risk. Does it fall under operations, financial management, human resources or somewhere else?
Businesses that do not take ownership and accountability to manage work-related road risk effectively fail in their duty of care to protect the health and safety of their employees and other road users. At the same time, these companies are missing out on the benefits from a well-managed and monitored driving fleet.
Work-related road incidents can result in vehicles being taken off the road and an employee absent from work, leading to significant cost implications for any organisation. Incidents are entirely preventable. Meaning the hidden cost of work-related road incidents can be prevented.
At this juncture, business executives may be considering whether developing and implementing meaningful vehicle and driver policies is worth their time and effort. Many will look at their own organisation’s vehicle and driver history and may have no recent recorded incidents. So why should businesses take the time to ensure they have robust driving for work policies?
Why a driving for work policy is essential to your business
First and foremost, how your business operations might affect the safety of your drivers and other road users is covered under existing health and safety legislation. A driving for work policy therefore is an essential first step in meeting your legal obligations.
Secondly, a driving for work policy explains the standards you expect of your drivers. Meeting these standards can help to reduce costs and drive efficiencies for businesses. These include vehicle maintenance costs, collision repair costs, insurance and fuel efficiency costs, business mileage costs, and staff retention. A driving for work policy can also help protect your business’s reputation.
Thirdly, a happy workforce is a productive workforce. A driving for work policy contributes to overall employee well-being, ensuring that workers who drive and ride for work are kept safe and are looked after at all times. High profile campaigns such as Heads Together, whose patrons are the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke of Sussex, and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), have given a voice to a previously undiscussed topic. This is a positive step that will contribute to reducing work-related road risk.
A study of 2,000 van drivers, commissioned by Mercedes-Benz in 2017, found that one in five described their current state of mental health as poor. Behavioural factors that can affect employees driving include aggression, attitude to risk, driving excitement, ineffective coping strategy, fatigue, stress and work schedules.
What is your organisation’s policy on employee fatigue? What is your leadership team’s opinion on employees answering calls from supervisors or clients? A comprehensive driving for work policy will include these and champion best practice.
Overcoming ‘grey fleet’ challenges
We have seen significant growth in recent years of organisations using ‘grey fleet’ as part of their mobility strategies.
There are currently an estimated 14 million grey fleet vehicles, owned or leased privately by employees and used on business, on UK roads; many involved in or for the SME sector of the economy.
As more businesses employ grey fleet solutions as a part of their product and service distribution network, and customer demand for ‘to-the-door’ delivery increases, companies must employ strong leadership to take greater responsibility in ensuring driving for work policies and procedures are deployed for all drivers, whether or not they are in a company vehicle. If drivers and their employers are aware of the factors that pose a risk, the chance of an incident whilst driving is dramatically reduced.
Most road users would agree that there is enough road-related legislation in place. The way to reduce road risk is through education and collaboration: promoting compliance with existing legislation rather than by adding more laws and through enforcement. That’s where the DfBB programme comes in: a government-backed Highways England programme that helps employers to reduce work-related road risk, improve compliance with current legislation and guidance, and improve operational efficiency at the same time.
Whether you are a sole trader operating one van for your business; a small company with a leased fleet and grey fleet vehicles; or a large enterprise with hundreds of owned, leased and grey fleet, you can benefit from the support and guidance available through Driving for Better Business. It’s free to register with the programme and the resources are all free to access so there is no reason for any organisation, large or small, not to get involved.
The DfBB mission is to improve the levels of compliance for all those who drive or ride for work and to demonstrate the significant business benefits of managing work-related road risk more effectively. Ultimately, this makes the roads safer for everyone and at the same time can help you really improve your business: the question is why would you not take advantage of this free programme?
For more information on the Driving For Better Business programme and how it can benefit your organisation please click the following link: https://www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com