By Claire West
New research suggests that while some companies are beginning to use the latest “in-vehicle” technology to redress the balance, many aren’t taking full advantage of the benefits it can bring.
A survey into the UK-wide fleet industry by Trimble — one of the world’s leading experts in telematics — highlights the growing concern for driver safety.
More than half of the managers surveyed consider driver safety to be a priority and major challenge — yet only a third believe technology can help.
The recent leaps in telematics technology have allowed employers to monitor their drivers’ location, status and driving behaviour far more easily.
“Trimble has seen a shift in the reasons why investment in technology is being made, but the next generation of technology may bring even further benefits to help companies manage the risks around driver safety,” says Andrew Yeoman, managing director of Trimble MRM in EMEA.
“Companies have a responsibility around duty of care to their employees. If they are in an office this is relatively straightforward, but for field employees it can be another story.
“Once a worker is out on the road and alone, it is far harder to understand the risks they may encounter and to help them recognise and mitigate these risks to protect themselves and others.”
The increased legislation around lone workers has boosted the awareness of driver safety but there is still some uncertainty as to how to implement effective measures and it remains a grey area for many.
Jeff Colburn, leader of UK Marsh Risk Consulting, says that current health and safety legislation means that if an employee is involved in a vehicle accident while working, the business could face unlimited fines and possible jail sentences for directors and line managers, not to mention the devastating impact this can have on a company’s reputation.
In essence, the driver may be many miles away but the employer still has a duty of care for them and those on the road.
“We have noticed increased concern from our clients regarding driver safety but there are still misconceptions from some,” says Colburn.
“Some employers believe that they don’t need to worry about managing occupational road risk because their employees drive their own vehicles.
“It is important to realize that, irrespective of whom the vehicle belongs to, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy, maintained, taxed and insured for business use and has a current MOT certificate.
“By implementing a systematic and comprehensive programme to manage occupational road risk, businesses could benefit from decreased costs, improved compliance and greatly enhanced safety of its drivers.”
Yeoman says 21st Century business can face this challenge head on by using available technology as a tool to help alleviate the risks.
“If a worker causes an accident through bad or dangerous driving, tiredness or negligence or even using a mobile phone while moving, the company may well be responsible,” says Yeoman.
“One of the best ways to identify poor driving practices and change them before it is too late is through technology.
“Trimble technology can be used by companies to recognise where training might be applied and therefore address unsafe driving habits that could lead to an accident.”