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Publicity surrounding the impact of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act on fleets provided the catalyst for West Sussex-based company Cordek to focus on introducing a range of driver risk management initiatives.
Along with other media headlines around issues such as the importance of driver licence checking and discouraging mobile phone use while behind the wheel, Europe’s largest manufacturer and supplier of specialist expanded polystyrene products to the construction and other industries decided to call in experts from DriveTech for help.
Although only operating a small fleet - 15 user-chooser company cars, seven 7.5 tonne commercial vehicles and a pool car with a handful of occasional drivers, who may use their own car on business trips if the pool car was unavailable - the company was conscious of its risk management responsibilities.
I was aware that we were not dedicating enough time to fleet issues and one of my major concerns was updating our driver handbook.However, as I looked into issues further, it was clear that we needed to focus more on reducing our risk exposure.
Finance Director, Grant Naris
DriveTech conducted a root and branch review of Cordek’s fleet and other vehicles driven on company business, and looked at how the company’s driving-related activities functioned.
“It was a fantastic benchmarking exercise,” said Mr Naris. “Numerous action points were highlighted, some of which I was already aware of, as well as other areas of potential weakness in our risk management strategy. It was money well spent, as we also adapted DriveTech’s driver handbook template to meet our own requirements.”
It was that initial exercise that provided the action plan for Cordek to formulate the next strand of its safe driving strategy.
Twenty-five drivers - high mileage company car drivers travelling 25,000-30,000 miles a year and occasional drivers - completed an online risk assessment to determine whether they were a ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ risk drivers.
The online assessment produced a cross-section of results but Cordek decided that, irrespective of achieving ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ risk assessment scores, the company car driving sales force would all complete a one-day on-road driver training course. Meanwhile, the remaining company car drivers, own car drivers and occasional drivers completed a half-day, classroom-based, road safety workshop.
Mr Naris explained: “We decided that the on-road training would be more relevant to employees who were driving all day, everyday.”
While Cordek’s employees had not been involved in any major road crashes, the company’s insurance record showed an average of one claim per vehicle per year and premiums had consequently rocketed by 75% in the last three years.
“We didn’t have a brilliant claims experience and our premiums were rising rapidly”, continued Mr Naris. “Our insurers have now said that, as long as we remain committed to our safe driving programme and our claims record improves as a result, we will then see reductions in our annual premiums.
“Given the increasing amount of legislation targeted at reducing the number of crashes involving at-work drivers on Britain’s roads and the rising cost of incidents to Cordek, we had to reduce our risk exposure.”
Communication with staff as to the reasons behind the launching of the safe driving initiative was crucial, as Mr Naris explained: “We have an extremely low staff turnover rate, which is excellent for the business. We explained the issue to the staff and that we took their welfare seriously.
“They therefore went into the risk assessments and the training understanding our reasons for their introduction. After completing the programme, the sceptics amongst them had been won over, as everyone admitted they had learned something.”
Going forward there are plans in the pipeline for commercial vehicle drivers to complete DriveTech’s LGV online risk assessment and on-road training for employees who previously completed the workshops. In addition a few very occasional drivers, who have yet to complete either a workshop or on-road training, will attend a workshop to ensure road safety remains front of mind.
In addition, driver licence checks are undertaken regularly and any future crashes involving staff will result in a post-event driver interview, with targeted interventions introduced if required, in a bid to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Mr Naris concluded: “The advice and service we have received from DriveTech has been excellent from day one. DriveTech quickly understood our needs and there was no hard sell. They introduced clear, concise and relevant solutions to meet our requirements and the whole exercise has been fabulous value for money.”
DriveTech Business Development Director, Matt Rapier, said: “Many companies with small fleet operations continue to fail to appreciate the importance of occupational road risk management to their business.
“Cordek is a shining example of a business that appreciated it had areas of weakness and has put in place a number of interventions that not only ensures the business is now operating along best practice lines in terms of at-work driver safety, but will also reap the benefits of cost reduction through reduced insurance premiums and administration associated with road crashes.”