There are about 2,100 work-related road collisions every day in the UK, costing around £2.7 billion per annum. In the rail industry alone, half of work fatalities in 2019 were road traffic accidents. The road system is a lifeline – moving both transport workers and passengers. CIRAS receives concerns about road-related fatigue from time to time, so at our January rep webinar, 89 CIRAS members came together to hear from members and specialists alike on how to make driving safer in their organisations.
Our speakers were:
- Simon Turner, Driving for Better Business (DfBB) – A Highways England’s (HE) programme to help employers reduce work-related road risk
- Tavid Dobson, RSSB – Tavid manages a strategic partnership between RSSB and HE to improve road safety in the rail sector
- Mark Barrett, Head of HSQE at Redstone Rail (a CIRAS member).
Who’s accountable for managing road risk?
When a worker steps behind the wheel of a vehicle, they take on certain responsibilities. For example, the driver checks the roadworthiness of their vehicle, ensures they are fit to drive and then must drive responsibly.
But as Simon Turner explained, road risk is a shared responsibility. Yes, it relies on drivers but also on having the right policies in place, planning work to avoid fatigue, robust maintenance arrangements, and the right support for drivers and vehicle users.
Former Chairman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Martin Temple CBE, has said, “We have the power to go up the chain of activities or bring to account those people and organisations who put drivers and the public at risk by the unreasonable conditions they pose on their drivers.”
So – it’s a team effort!
Why take it seriously?
Simon talked through the business benefits of managing road risk. Better maintained vehicles are more reliable, and staff who drive responsibly experience better fuel efficiency, which reduces costs. Fewer road incidents mean better productivity. He cited an example from Amey Highways, which reported that improving its management of road risk saw fuel spend drop by £750,000, and at-fault collisions by 38%. Simon pointed out that evidence showing road risk is effectively managed will be a contractual requirement for future HE contracts.
Tavid Dobson explained the work RSSB has been doing with HE and the DfBB team, integrating DfBB’s gap analysis tool into an action programme for rail businesses. RSSB is also launching an Occupational Road Risk Charter, including commitment statements for CEOs across the rail sector.
Solutions and tools
Mark Barrett shared some of the road risk initiatives from Redstone Rail. The company has included road risk in its refreshed health and safety induction, looking at driving behaviours and asking staff which ones they do themselves. Mark is keen to recognise good behaviours – not just calling people out on the bad stuff. So, he shares good examples such as respect for other drivers, road awareness, staying alert, driving to the conditions, and taking responsibility. DfBB also offers several free tools to help drivers build good behaviours – such as its CALM Driver and Van Driver toolkits.
Redstone has implemented a telematics system which scores drivers on their performance and helps them learn where they can improve. Redstone developed a driver’s app in partnership with the telematics company, which contains downloadable content such as videos to help improve their practice and vehicle checklist forms. It also enables drivers to raise close calls.
In the beginning, drivers’ scores were as low as 10%, but now range from 70% to 96%. The app has also led to other positive benefits:
- Improved claims history and reduced insurance premiums.
- Accidents reduced by 80%.
- Saving on fuel and wear and tear.
What about the grey fleet?
Over the pandemic, there’s been an increase of people using their own cars for work journeys – the so-called ‘grey fleet’. It’s much harder to manage, as insuring and maintaining a non-company vehicle is the responsibility of the owner. Members talked about the need to ask drivers to provide evidence they have business insurance, and to encourage them to undertake the right checks on their own vehicles before using them for work purposes.