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There are various important factors which need to be taken into consideration when writing a road safety policy. Your road safety policy will provide a broad framework for dealing with the various risks posed to the wellbeing of your employees while driving, as well as other road users. The people tasked with the responsibility of drawing up your road safety policy will therefore need to have a solid grasp of what these risks are, how best to address them and have an understanding of the relevant legal and regulatory requirements.

A robust and rigorous road safety policy is an absolute must-have for any fleet operator. This isn’t just a matter of providing firms with protection against risk, ensuring driver safety, or safeguarding them against potential insurance claims in the event of an accident – it’s part of the vital process of creating a culture of road safety throughout these organisations. Yet recent research indicated that more than one-fifth of UK businesses did not have such a road safety policy in place.

It is essential, then, that if your business does not have a road safety policy, one should be devised without delay. Fortunately, technologies such as telematics make it easier than ever to introduce and implement such a policy across your fleet.

Drawing up a road safety policy

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a three-phase process for road safety policy development. The first phase concerns initiation of that development process – first by assessing the situation with relation to road safety, then raising awareness of what it entails, then identifying leadership and fostering commitment to it, then bringing stakeholders on board and creating a sense of ownership.

In the second phase, the policy needs to be formulated. This involves devising a suitable framework for it, setting appropriate objectives and selecting interventions, and – crucially – making sure that this policy leads to genuine action, rather than simply being a paper exercise. A robust road safety policy framework needs to be backed up by mechanisms for monitoring and enforcement in order to prove truly effective.

The third phase as suggested by the WHO requires seeking endorsement and approval. Stakeholder approval in particular is relevant here. You must ensure that your drivers buy in to any road safety policy you introduce. This isn’t a legal requirement as such, but it is good for staff morale and helps to maintain good relations between drivers and managers. It should also be explained to all concerned that this road safety will be revisited and updated as and when necessary. Any road safety policy must be presented in clear and concise language so that everybody knows what their obligations are.

Telematics and road safety

As we’ve already touched upon, telematics systems make it a great deal simpler to implement and monitor the effectiveness of road safety policies. Telematics devices, in a nutshell, perform two key functions – they monitor where a vehicle is driven (through the use of GPS technology) and they also monitor how a vehicle is driven. So not only does this enable fleet managers to keep track of vehicles in real-time, it also provides them with in-depth insights into just how their drivers conduct themselves on the road.

This means that managers can analyse in fine detail their employees’ driving standards, potentially enabling them to highlight dangerous and risky conduct – and devise methods for eradicating it. Telematics data can highlight a range of dangerous behaviours on the road, including harsh braking, aggressive cornering, tailgating and excessive speeding. This opens up a range of possibilities for driving up road safety standards.

Armed with this knowledge, managers can provide personalised and detailed feedback to drivers about their performance and address any issues that might arise. For example, if a driver is prone to late, harsh braking, a training course can be set up helping the individual concerned to deal with this problem. Other schemes can be put in place – such as a driver safety league table, with the safest drivers rewarded for their careful conduct over a certain period. We noted earlier the importance of winning drivers’ consent and support for the introduction of a road safety policy, and incentives such as this can assist with that.

Boosting safety, cutting costs

The introduction of telematics allows fleets to sidestep the old dilemma between improving safety on the one hand and restraining costs on the other. In fact, telematics allows fleet operators to do both at the same time. The potential gains are substantial, too. A 2013 policy paper from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) noted: “Some studies have found that accident rates for vehicles fitted with a monitoring device reduced by 20%, others found a reduction of 38% in accidents and the rate of specific unsafe driving behaviours reduced by up to 82% in one case.”

Of course, the implementation of telematics has to be handled carefully and sensitively, ensuring that drivers have a clear understanding of its use and the benefits it will provide them and the business. As part of a comprehensive road safety policy – designed to enhance the safety of drivers as much as managing risk – it should be possible for fleet operators to gain drivers’ buy in by communicating openly and being transparent about why they are investing in telematics.

If you haven’t yet started utilising a telematics system because you’re concerned about a possible reaction from your drivers, this blog post provides information to get your staff on board. https://www.teletracnavman.co.uk/how-to-introduce-vehicle-tracking-to-your-staff

Adam Partington is a Integrated Digital Marketer at Teletrac Navman.

Adam Partington has written for both The Independent and The London Evening Standard. He has worked in the Telematics industry since 2014 and is a regular contributor to the Teletrac Navman blog, taking a special interest in government policy issues, driver behaviour and road safety.