IAM RoadSmart believes that many businesses are missing out on opportunities to improve road safety for their drivers, by relying on technology alone to solve the problem for them.
That is one of the conclusions reached in the latest white paper issued this week by IAM RoadSmart entitled Driver Education – What More Can Be Learned?
Whilst legislation around the need for driver risk management is very clear and already in place, application has proven difficult. This has resulted in a lack of clarity around the minimum standards required to be compliant.
The charity stated that many companies “check that their drivers have the appropriate licences and feel that their responsibility ends there. In some cases they may employ technology to monitor driver behaviour, but typically this is used more as a way of maximising operational efficiency as opposed to improving safety.”
Some businesses may argue that with 90-95% of collisions caused by human error they are absolved from any responsibility for poor driving, pushing the blame down to the driver as an individual.
The report also advocated that training should not be restricted to a one-off session – but to be a life-long continuous process.
Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart business development director, added: “Perhaps we should require people to retake their test after a certain number of years? There is a growing belief that we should.
“I cannot think of another single task as difficult, complex, important or as dangerous as driving on business, where quite literally, you can perform well for just an hour of your life – during the driving test – and that’s all that’s required for the next 60 years or more. Given the rapid changes in technology, legislation and congestion this just does not seem logical.”
The report said: “It is well known that the standard driving test is designed to check whether a driver’s skill meets a minimum standard, but this does not necessarily prepare drivers for real-world scenarios.”
The report continued: “Indeed, the effectiveness of any training given to pass a driving test will vary depending on the age, profession and experience of the student. Furthermore, for most drivers, the driving test is the very last time their abilities are ever formally assessed.”
The report also explores the immense cost to businesses in terms of inefficient driving which can lead to vehicle damage, poor fuel consumption, lost productivity, uninsured liabilities and medical expenses – as well as impacting on road safety.
The report also considers the dangers of relying purely on technology, as in many cases the driving issues identified are not followed up with an appropriate and proactive driver training intervention.
It said: “Technology is often relied upon to provide a solution to poor driving. In itself however, it rarely influences driver behaviour or attitudes.”
Tony said: “While technology can tell you ‘how’ it cannot determine the ‘why,’ and it is this piece of the jigsaw that many businesses leave unanswered.”
He stressed the importance of improving the skills and increasingly the behaviours of business drivers, particularly given the ever-present challenge of smartphones.
Tony said in the report: “There is still nothing to replace the direct educational feedback delivered by a professionally qualified trainer who is actually experiencing what is going on around them. They help change the way you think by linking their advice to a real and live example.”
He said that many companies cite cost as the reason to not pursue a driver education programme for its employees. He said in the report: “Companies will spend £400 a month on leasing a car and they’ll factor in road tax, insurance, maintenance and fuel.”
Tony said: “Building the business case and securing the budget for driver training can involve a very long sign-off process. This seems odd when the cost of implementing a comprehensive risk management programme can be as little as just £5 per month, per driver.”
The report concluded that the benefits to improving the performance of those who drive on business can deliver massive cost savings for a very small level of investment.
To find out more about IAM RoadSmart’s range of driver products for businesses and to download a copy of the report visit www.iamcommercial.co.uk.