Managing Speed

Inappropriate speed is a leading and aggravating cause of crashes. Employers need to be aware of what they can do to manage speed as part of managing driver behaviour in general [see also Top 10 Tips for Managing Driver Behaviour]. This new infographic on Managing Speed from the ETSC is a really useful guide and communication tool that employers can use to influence behaviour and share with staff who drive at work

ETSC Managing Speed #DrivingforWork

ETSC Managing Speed #DrivingforWork

Fleets Warned After MP Jailed

Did you know there are major consequences of not telling the truth about penalty points you might receive?

Fleet News reports that company car and van drivers are warned that telling a ‘white lie’ to avoid points on their licence is one of the “most serious offences”.

However, despite the risks involved, a national law firm says more people are choosing to ask a family member or friend to take the points on their behalf.

The warning comes after Peterborough UK MP, Fiona Onasanya, was jailed after she lied to police over a speeding ticket.

A solicitor, Onasanya had denied being behind the wheel of her Nissan Micra when it was clocked being driven at 41mph in a 30mph zone, in July 2017.

Her brother Festus was jailed for 10 months for his involvement, after pleading guilty to the same charge.

Full story here: 

Small investment, Big return

“Could any fleet manager ignore the opportunity to make a small investment that could return 16 times that amount, improve legal compliance and reduce the chance of accidents?”
Tony Greenidge

The occasion of this question was the annual conference of the Institute of Car Fleet Management and the speaker who posed the question was Tony Greenidge of IAM RoadSmart. Both organisations are registered charities. 

Let’s look at the numbers Tony presented, which show how a change in driver behaviour can dramatically cut costs.

He assumed a fleet of 80 cars and 20 vans, averaging 15,000 business miles per annum, having a 15% chance of an at-fault collision every year and a four-year replacement cycle. A fairly typical medium-size fleet.

He presented well-sourced stats that showed that 37% of leased cars and 40% of leased vans are returned with unfair wear and tear, for which the leasing companies charge an average £308 and £414 respectively. That’s a cost of £3,107 for our example fleet, a fair chunk of which might be down to driver behaviour.

The average motor insurance claim is £2,839 (Source: ABI, 2017), and this figure is rising as cars become more complex. If 15% of our assumed fleet is involved in an at-fault collision every year, the cost to the fleet will be £42,585. How much of that could be reduced by changes in driver behaviour? Presumably rather a lot, as these are at-fault claims.

Tony assumed that his fleet of 100 vehicles driving 15,000 miles per annum had an average 44mpg under WLTP, but that the fleet actually averaged 40mpg. He showed that a cost saving of £18,908 was achievable if the driver could be encouraged to drive in a fuel-efficient way.

Then we came to the interesting part, which I hadn’t been aware of. The EST provides a subsidy to approved training organisations for every driver they put through an ecodriving course.  This can reduce the per-head cost of a standard 90-minute course to £30-£40, depending on the provider.

For the assumed fleet of 100 vehicles, the potential savings from ecodriving is £64,600, or £646 per driver. Let’s say the 90-minute ecodriving course costs £40 per head, or £4,000 for all of the drivers. That’s a potential return of more than 16 times the investment.

Fleet World reporter Colin Tourick ended the article by asking: "Costs reduced, emissions reduced, accidents avoided, lives saved, all for £40 per head and 90 minutes outside the business. Why isn’t everyone doing this?"

Source: Fleet World 31 July 2018

DriverFocus comment:

Indeed, however there are some additional points to ponder, such as:
1. What uninsured losses would this sample fleet also face?  Typically, this is a multiple of 2X (or significantly larger multiple) of the "bent-metal" cost
2. If EST funding is not an option, the commercial rates for in-vehicle driver training is significantly higher (again a multiple of 3X or more), which reduces payback. Still, the business case for being proactive is strong.
3. Aside from training everyone, a targeted training programme - based on telemetry, fuel card data and/or risk assessment data - could reduce the training cost and improve return on investment.

Incentives Improve Worplace Road Safety

“This is where incentives can come into play. Incentives provide a means for employee
recognition. Positive reinforcement has been the most widely used component of behaviour

The National Road Safety Partnership Program (NSRPP - Australia) have just published an excellent discussion paper which looks at the effectiveness of incentive measures - recognition, tangible rewards and monetary benefits - to motivate behavioural change among staff who drive for work.

Incentives differ from traditional rewards because benefits are conditional on employees’ future safe driving practices, rather than previous practices.

Specifically, the paper looks at:

  • methods of motivating behavioural change through the hierarchy of human needs

  • the elements of an incentives program within a safe driving program

  • the benefits of an incentives program

  • types of incentives programs currently used by organisations

  • the challenges and considerations that incentives can pose

  • and the importance of safety maturity and a safety culture within an organisation

There is substantial experimental and other evidence to suggest that incentive programs improve workplace road safety. 

Workplace road safety is a prime concern when operating a fleet of vehicles, or relying on employees to operate vehicles, within an organisation. When incidents or crashes occur, employees are at risk of injury and the organisation is at risk of substantial costs, which can include a loss of productivity; the potential for liability; damage to the organisation’s reputation; and expensive insurance claims. Keeping employees, and the public, safe on the roads is a key responsibility of any organisation. One effective way to improve workplace road safety, and motivate behavioural change towards safer driving practices, is to incorporate incentives in safe driving initiatives. This is where a driver’s driving practices are monitored, using various technologies, and those drivers with excellent driving records are recognised and/or rewarded.

This NRSPP paper looks at why incentives can work, current incentives schemes used in the real world, and challenges and considerations in using and implementing them.

The three main types of incentives that have been proven to help promote a safety culture are recognition, tangible rewards and monetary benefits.

Recognition is something many people like to receive, so recognition among peers and seniors can be used as an incentive to promote safer driving practices within a fleet.

Tangible rewards allow fleet drivers to publicly display their achievements in safe driving. Tangible rewards can be letters of commendation, plaques, trophies, prizes form catalogues or permitting drivers to upgrade the model of their vehicle or equipment.

Monetary benefits can be in the form of a cheque, reduced personal use charges, or anything else that provides more kept income to the driver. These monetary benefits can be self-funded from the savings made due to safer driving practices.

Source and further reading: The Power of Incentives in Improving Workplace Road Safety NRSPP (Australia)

Penalty increase for mobile phone use in UK

It has been illegal in the UK to use a hand held mobile phone while driving, or while stopped with the engine on, since December 2003.

As from the 1st March 2017, the penalty for using a hands held mobile device to make a call or send a text message increases for three to six penalty points and a fine from £100 to £200.

There's worldwide evidence that using any sort of phone has a considerable effect on collision risk, and can have a major bearing on whether or not you could be found guilty of careless or dangerous driving.

The THINK! campaign has also produced a variety of downloads to help you share the message of the dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving. These resources also aim to inform all drivers about the tougher handheld mobile phone legislation that is now in effect.

Source: Driving for Better Business

Rain Kills: A Warning To Drivers

Drivers are being urged to slow down when it’s raining after almost 3,000 people were killed or seriously injured when driving in the rain last year.

Highways England has launched a new safety campaign warning drivers that ‘when it rains, it kills’ after the latest statistics showed that people are 30 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads in rain than in snow.

The sad fact is that 2,918 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads when it was raining last year, and not slowing down to suit the current conditions was identified as a factor in 1 in 9 of all road deaths.

It generally takes at least twice as long to stop on a wet road as on a dry road because tyres have less grip on the surface. In wet weather you should:

slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles is making it difficult to see and be seen
keep well back from the vehicle in front as this will increase your ability to see and plan ahead
ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually if the steering becomes unresponsive as it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road

Highways England is warning that even driving within the speed limit in wet weather could be dangerous if drivers don’t allow extra space between them and the vehicle in front. And the message is being reinforced with rain-activated paint messages visible to people leaving motorway services when it is raining.

A new road safety video has also been produced, directed by award-winning photographer Nadav Kander, which shows rain falling inside the home of a family imagined to have been involved in a serious road collision.

Source: RoadSafe and Gov.UK

ETSC Focus On Managing Grey Fleet Safety

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has published a Short Guide for Companies Whose Staff Drive Their Own Cars For Work

When a driver uses their own vehicle for work, they are still under the responsibility of the employer, and this presents a real challenge for managing associated work related road safety risk. Employers may think that it is easier to manage employees using their own cars for work, instead of a company car fleet. However once all of the considerations are taken into account this may not be the case.

An estimated 14 million people in the UK and at least 600,000 in Ireland are classified as grey fleet drivers.

This very useful guide has been produced to help organisations review and improve grey fleet management, with a specific focus on safety concerns. It will explain the legal responsibilities as well as the business benefits of an effective grey fleet management policy. And it will also explain how grey fleet road risks can be reduced through risk assessment, and stress the importance of integrating grey fleet policy in company procedures and management responsibility.

Download the Managing Grey Fleet Safety Guide here

Study Shows Hands-free Mobile Use Just As Distracting

“The only ‘safe’ phone in a car is one that’s switched off.”

A study carried out by psychologists at the University of Sussex, published in the Transportation Research journal, found that drivers having conversations which sparked their visual imagination detected fewer road hazards than those who didn’t. 

The study, which tracked eye movements, found that drivers who were distracted suffered from “visual tunnelling.” They tended to focus their eyes on a small central region directly ahead of them. This led them to miss hazards in their peripheral vision. Undistracted participants’ eye movements ranged over a much wider area

The researchers found that conversations may use more of the brain’s visual processing resources than previously understood. Having a conversation which requires the driver to use their visual imagination creates competition for the brain’s processing capacity, which results in drivers missing road hazards that they might otherwise have spotted.

Dr Graham Hole, senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex, said: “A popular misconception is that using a mobile phone while driving is safe as long as the driver uses a hands-free phone. Our research shows this is not the case. Hands-free can be equally distracting because conversations cause the driver to visually imagine what they’re talking about. This visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road".

“Our findings have implications for real-life mobile phone conversations. The person at the other end of the phone might ask “where did you leave the blue file?”, causing the driver to mentally search a remembered room. The driver may also simply imagine the facial expression of the person they’re talking to.

Dr Hole said: “Conversations are more visual than we might expect, leading drivers to ignore parts of the outside world in favour of their inner ‘visual world’ – with concerning implications for road safety.”

Dr Hole says anything which causes drivers to imagine something visually, including passengers, can interfere with driving performance because the two tasks compete for similar processing resources.

He said: “However, chatty passengers tend to pose less of a risk than mobile phone conversations. They will usually moderate the conversation when road hazards arise. Someone on the other end of a phone is oblivious to the other demands on the driver and so keeps talking. And talking in person involves non-verbal cues which ease the flow of conversation. Phone conversations are more taxing because they lack these cues.”

Source: University of Sussex Study

10 Steps to Better, Safer Driver Behaviour

A key pillar of any Responsible Driver Programme is managing driver behaviour.  While many employers remain blind to the actual performance of their staff while driving for work - usually until something bad happens! - others have taken innovative, proactive steps to reduce risk and costs.

This month, one of our key partners, TomTom Telematics has detailed what DriverFocus has also found to be an effective 10 step guide to improving driver behaviour. 

From getting buy-in from drivers and creating efficiency champions to league tables and targeted training, below we outline how can you cut speeding and harsh braking to create more efficient, safer driving and fuel savings.

1. Where are you now - Analyse current performance
2. Where do you want to be - Set targets
3. Share your plans with senior management
4. Share your plans with drivers
5. Identify the problem drivers
6. Address problem drivers
7. Reward improvements and good driving behaviour
8. Share results effectively
9. Review and Refine
10 Find out more.

Further help and information - Contact Us and visit TomTom Telematics 10 Steps to Better Driver Behaviour

Bad Driving: What Are We Thinking?

Bad driving: what are we thinking?

Last week the UK government announced a crackdown on unsafe driving. From now on, those of us spotted tailgating or lane hogging will face on-the-spot fines of £100 and three penalty points. As road safety minister Stephen Hammond said: "Careless driving puts innocent people's lives at risk. That is why we have made it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers."

This initiative draws attention to a fascinating branch of science called traffic psychology, which studies the human and environmental factors that influence our driving behaviour.  Decades of research in traffic psychology suggests that poor driving is shaped by far more than carelessness or a subset of "problem drivers". Even the most skilled road users are subject to loss of social awareness, intuitive biases, contradictory beliefs, and limits in cognitive capacity.

Here are just 4 of the 10* of the most interesting psychological biases and errors we face when behind the wheel.

1. We fail to realise when we're being aggressive – or we don't care

We've all had the experience of a vehicle looming in our rear view and hanging on the bumper. Many of us will also have tailgated, blocked or otherwise bullied other people in ways we wouldn't dream of doing in a face-to-face situation, such as standing in a queue. Research shows that younger drivers who score higher on personality measures of sensation-seeking and impulsiveness are more likely to behave aggressively behind the wheel. What's also interesting is that these drivers show less sensitivity to punishment, which means that simple punitive measures are unlikely to deter the most antisocial road users.

2. We believe we're safer than we really are
Once we've learned how to drive it soon becomes an automatic task. Over time we learn how to predict the actions of other drivers, which can lead to the illusion that we control them. One area where people seem especially prone to error is in the judgement of relative speed: we tend to overestimate how much time can be saved by driving faster while also underestimating minimal safe braking distance. The computations needed to make these judgements are highly complex and don't come naturally to us.

3. We forget that other drivers are people too …

When someone accidentally walks into us on the street or their shopping trolley bumps into ours, the usual reaction is to apologise and move on. But when driving, near misses are often met with instant anger – and in the most extreme cases, road rage. Research shows that drivers more readily dehumanise other drivers and pedestrians in ways they wouldn't when interacting in person. This loss of inhibition is similar to the way some of us behave in online environments.

4. … yet we behave more aggressively to those of 'lower status'

One interesting paradox is that even though we're prone to dehumanising other drivers, we still act according to social status. Decades of research shows that prolonged honking, tailgating, and other aggressive behaviours are more likely if the aggressor believes they are the more important driver. What's particularly interesting is that these judgements can be based simply on the vehicles involved, with no knowledge of the person behind the wheel: larger cars generally outrank smaller cars and newer cars trump older ones. Drivers of more expensive cars are also more likely to behave aggressively toward pedestrians.

* Read the rest of this article here: The Guardian (UK)

Driver Distraction - New Brake Survey Report

For most people, driving for work is likely to be the most dangerous activity they do on a daily basis. Even a momentary lapse in concentration can have devastating consequences. Distractions such as mobile phones are proven to severely impair driving ability, causing slower reaction times and difficulty controlling speed and lane position. Other distractions such as eating and drinking, adjusting controls and smoking also increase crash risk.

The 220 organisations that responded to the latest Brake Fleet Safety Forum survey operate fleets of all sizes and vehicle types.  They are responsible for thousands of drivers and vehicles around the globe. 

Almost all fleet managers surveyed (98%) take some form of action on mobile phone risk. Almost three in 10 (28%) have banned all mobile phone use, including hands-free, while driving. However almost half (48%) of fleets have built-in communication devices in their vehicles, such as two-way radios or built-in hands-free kits, and only one in three (35%) of these instruct drivers not to use them while driving.

One in seven (14%) employers surveyed monitor phone use to ensure compliance with their policies, and nearly six in 10 (58%) educate drivers on the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.

For more on this Report and Brake's Fleet Safety Forum, click here