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10 key steps to an international fleet safety policy

Local initiatives may differ, but a wholehearted commitment to a culture of road and driver safety can be applied across multinational organisations. Here’s how.

Regardless of country or continent, driving is likely to be the most dangerous activity undertaken by employees in the course of their working week. Risk levels may vary widely from country to country, but the human and financial costs of collisions are universally dramatic. No surprise, then, that many multinationals establish a global fleet safety programme. Implementing such an ambitious policy is fraught with difficulty, but there are common themes between successful programmes.

  1. Ensure senior management buy-in

A lasting safety culture starts at the top. Every layer of management, from the global CEO to national company bosses and local managers, has to support the commitment to fleet safety. Drivers should never doubt the company’s attitude to safer driving.

  1. Build a business case

A global safety programme will devour time and resource, so build a business case to justify the investment. And don’t forget to focus on the positive consequences of a safer and less risk involved corporate environment for both employees and the company itself. Elements in the business can include: the financial benefits of fewer accidents (lower repair costs, cheaper insurance, improved fuel economy, and the avoidance of lost employee productivity and damaged cargo); duty of care responsibilities and legal compliance; and honouring corporate social responsibility to staff and the wider community.

  1. Adopt a team approach

Every relevant department has to respect the safety programme from fleet to HR, finance, sales and operations. Any weak link could undermine the policy, such as drivers feeling under pressure to meet an unachievable number of sales calls, client visits or deliveries.

  1. Gather the evidence

Harmonising the collection and reporting of crash data internationally allows multinationals to identify best practice and set national benchmarks for improvement. From the outset, companies need to understand the frequency and cost of accidents.

  1. Accept local differences

Different fleets, even within the same multinational, face different challenges - urban or rural; time sensitive or relaxed journeys; plus sharp variations in road conditions, the knowledge and behaviour of other drivers, the strictness of law enforcement, and local attitudes to mobile phone use and drink driving. Against this background, trying to set a single global programme for safety improvements is doomed to failure. But laying solid foundations that driver safety is critically important and that business decisions should support this, can be a unifying, global theme.

  1. Use the data

Understanding drivers’ abilities and attitudes is vital to spot higher risk employees. Local managers have to analyse driving records (speeding convictions), insurance claims, and even fuel consumption figures to identify more dangerous drivers. Online driver assessment software can detect poor knowledge and risky attitudes, while telematics systems can deliver accurate driving data, including incidents of harsh acceleration and braking.

  1. Assist drivers

Specialist training organisations can teach better driving skills and attitudes through online training, group sessions and even one-to-one coaching.

  1. Carrot not stick

Drivers must engage in this process, and rewarding good behaviour is more productive than punishing poor performance. Drivers need to understand that the safety programme is designed to protect not persecute them. Set measurable targets, such as an improvement in fuel economy (from a gentler driving style), or a reduction in incidents of harsh acceleration and braking (from telematics data). Some companies run league tables that reward the best-performing drivers.

  1. Select safer vehicles

Vehicles in Europe and North America typically meet high safety standards, but in Asia and South America the Global New Car Assessment Programme continues to test cars that achieve zero star safety ratings. It urges fleet buyers to make ‘five star’ ratings obligatory, and says autonomous emergency braking (AEB) should be the number one priority for anyone choosing a new car. In Europe, the Euro NCAP car safety assessment standard now also looks at pedestrian safety and driver assist technologies. There is a reason for that, so include these parameters in your vehicle benchmarking.

  1. Keep on keeping on

There’s no finish line in a risk management programme. It’s a constant campaign to reduce risk and keep safety as the highest priority within the corporate culture. Use all available data to measure the effectiveness of the policy, and keep striving to reduce the number of collisions and claims, both locally and globally.

21/03/2017  |  Jonathan Manning

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