Reducing Risk: Your Drivers
Driver skills, selection and control are all vitally important in reducing the likeliness of accidents.
Included in this section:
From experience, a typical 'check' of a driving licence is performed by supervisory staff or administrators.
This will usually consist of sight of the original driving licence, ensuring that it has 'full' marked on it and a photocopy being taken for recording purposes.
Do you know what category of licence is required for the vehicle to be driven? Do you know if the applicants licence has the correct categories?
To ensure that your vetting procedure is effective consider the following:
- Does the check involve confirmation of drivers address and issue number?
- Do you know what the endorsement codes really mean?
- Are you aware a licence photo-card lasts 10 years!
If you receive a driving offence penalty, you now only have 28 days to surrender your licence for the endorsement to be added (it used to be 12 months).
If the answer to any of the above questions is no, then you and your company are failing your 'duty of care' obligations and may be increasing the potential for accidents to occur through lack of risk management at the vetting stage.
Like most occupations, there is no substitute for knowledge and experience. If you don't know the meaning of the various endorsement codes, seek help from suitably qualified bodies such as DVLA. Don't leave it to chance.
Vetting and Selection Procedures
Driver Vetting is a fundamental part of fleet risk management. All new drivers should undergo a thorough driver vetting process before they are authorised to drive. Effective driver vetting will involve the following:
- Complete a full driving licence check
- Look for endorsements and convictions
- Check and copy the original driving licence at the vetting stage, and date the copy for future reference (do not accept a copy) view the original
- Contact the DVLA directly if the original licence is not available or in any doubt
- Obtain and follow up references from previous employers
- Establish medical condition to drive: As a minimum the completion of medical questions on a driving application form and eyesight should be tested to ensure that it meets the minimum requirement for driving
- Assess previous driving experience and establish their accident history
- Complete a driving risk assessment
- Vetting processes should also include all double shift/main drivers.
Research consistently confirms that the lowest accident rates are displayed by companies with robust driving standards and clear driving rules, most importantly effective driver vetting procedures.
- On the UK's road network, 10 people are killed and around 1,000 others are injured every day
- Nearly 33% of all fatalities involve the use of a company vehicle
- Over 65% of all road accidents involve company vehicles
Road accidents touch every level of society, every level of responsibility and virtually every fleet operator/proprietor.
As employers/proprietors you have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety of your employees/drivers/others, who may be affected by their driving at work activities.
This is in addition to existing legal obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Employers/Proprietors are also "vicariously liable" for harm caused through the negligence of employees / drivers in the course of their driving duties.
"If they are doing something for you and about their duties (including driving a company vehicle), you are responsible - even if they are behaving totally improperly and against your orders". (Greville Janner. Q.C.)
This process should give the driver the necessary information they need in case of emergencies, communicate a sense of responsibility, which should in turn be reflected in driving standards.
- An introduction to the company, driving risk assessments including vehicular operations
- Company and vehicle best practices and policies
- An introduction to the driver handbook, which is 'key' to all of your safe working practices
An introduction to the vehicle should also take place. It should give specific instruction on all controls and instruments by a 'competent person', as well as instruction on the use of any ancillary equipment (ramps or lifts), load securing, manual handling assessment, accident procedures, security (personal and vehicle), drivers responsibilities and vehicle checking.
Driver induction is a fundamental part of fleet risk management. Accordingly, all new drivers should be provided with detailed instruction and guidance before being allowed to drive. Make sure your drivers know what they are doing.
You want your drivers to be professional, efficient and safe. After all they decide how much administration you are bogged down with and ultimately how high your insurance premiums will be.
- Over 95% of accidents are caused by human error. Effective driver selection is therefore vital to the overall success of your business
- 33% of all large motor vehicle insurance claims involve drivers who have ben employed for less than 12 months, regardless of age or driving experience
Driver selection is the easiest area to control.
Little or no training is done in the field of occupational driving, this will help you to reduce risk and comply with your legal obligations.
A concentration on helping each individual to develop the visual and mental strategies required to improve risk perception and decision making processes.
This will assist:
- To identify behaviours/practices leading to loss or injury
- To introduce 'best practice' coaching appropriate to all sources of identified risk
- To reinforce the competence of existing behaviours/practices (strengths)
- To improve fuel economy and extend component life
- To determine areas where further support/training may be necessary
A Risk Profile is built, that will highlight the strengths and risk factors identified during the drive, note progress made and pinpoint areas that may require further attention.
We strongly recommend you accompany the driver (as a passenger) for a minimum of 15 minutes. Observe but make no comment. Aim to be entirely objective in your assessment.
Retention of Drivers
The retention of good quality, safe drivers, particularly in the taxi industry, can be a real problem. Drivers may be willing to move employers for very little.
To combat this trend, many owners/proprietors/employers now offer their drivers bonus payments. Most bonuses are paid to drivers who meet set criteria such as improving fuel consumption, keeping their vehicles in pristine condition, courteous driving, no complaints, handing documentation such as vehicle checklists in on time and have no at fault accidents.
The costs associated with making bonus payments can usually be recouped within the business because of:
- Reduced fuel costs
- Reduced wear and tear, improving whole life costs and vehicle / driver utilisation
- The avoidance of lost productivity due to accidents / injuries / bent metal costs
- Reduced accidents and motor / personal injury claims
Many fleet operators paying bonuses tell us that the scheme is self-funding due to the reduction of costs in the above areas.
Exercise - Work it Out
Try and work out how much you as a company paid out for
- your vehicle repairs
- third party vehicle repairs
- other third party costs
- lost productivity
- insurance costs
Don't forget to look at incidents which either fall below your insurance excess limit or that you didn't claim for last year, you may be surprised !!
Companies however, should also remember that any 'bonus' schemes which incentivises the driver to drive faster or longer than the law states, are illegal. In addition to bonus payments, many companies run their own in-house 'driver of the year' schemes.
To summarise driver retention, it should never be forgotten that operating a fleet in a safe and efficient manner, taking into account the health, safety and welfare of drivers and having a fair but ethical company ethos, also improves driver morale and driver retention.