If one may ask, how well do you know who is behind the wheel of your not-so-cheap mobile asset? The reality is that for many enterprises with employees who drive as part of their job, the answer will most likely be: “I think so,” or maybe, “no.”
Driver risk management has recently become a top issue for many organizations since it directly affects Incidents involving budgets and the bottom line.
The fact that there are several millions of people driving for work-related activities on Nigeria roads and many of them have invalid, suspended or no driver’s license at all should be cause enough for concern.
Add to this, the truth that over 90% of road crashes are attributable to human error, that there are fewer qualified drivers available today and that most organizations’ budgets are at best flat, while repair and litigation costs remain on the upward trajectory and it becomes clear that understanding exposure to driver risk is imperative for every organization.
Poor or nonchalant attitude towards the management of driver risk comes with a heavy burden. Heavy burden that impacts negatively on both the image and operational cost of a transport company. Managing driver risk may seem like a huge task, but the truth is that it is money and time well-spent.
Industry statistics show that for every N1 spent on improving workplace safety, more than N4 can be returned on investment.
So how do companies go about creating a culture of driver safety?
They can start with three simple best practices that focus on monitoring, insight, and action.
1. CONTINUOUSLY MONITOR
Monitoring and understanding a driver does not start when the driver is employed and now sits behind a Company’s vehicle. Understanding driver’s behaviour starts from hire to retire.
Industry research shows that companies with the lowest number of crash incidents and zero-incidents of stolen assets take a comprehensive approach and monitor drivers all year long as opposed to the traditional method of pulling one Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) per year (as they do in places like the US) or wait until one major accident occurs resulting in huge legal, repair and image costs.
Validating driver’s license information and conducting extensive background checks (including address verification and employment history interrogation) on prospective employees before they are on the road are critical first steps.
Expediency may also warrant that background checks be extended to the people standing surety for the prospective drivers, not only to establish the adequacy of their guarantees but to also confirm that they exist and can be truly and easily reached when the time comes.
2. LEVERAGE INSIGHTS
Create a single source of truth about your drivers.
The next generation of driver risk management requires employers to create a single source of truth – violations, MVRs, accident reports, costs, compliance documentation, etc. — for all driver information and performance.
While the information contained in the single source of truth is incredibly valuable and allows the employer to build driver and fleet profiles, what’s more important is it provides assurance that the employer has qualified people behind the wheel through:
- Actionable insights that can highlight behaviour and training issues
- Uniform policy enforcement across different classes of drivers and geographies
- Benchmarking to compare drivers and fleets to internal and industry standards
A comprehensive single source of truth is an effective tool that can limit exposure, save time, and reduce costs.
3. TAKE ACTION: ENSURE CORRECT BEHAVIOUR
Employers can then leverage the “single source of truth” about driver performance to take action on problem areas or to proactively improve driver safety.
For example, providing a way to deliver training courses in a non-disruptive way, benchmarking individual driver and fleet performance against industry averages, and enforcing policies gives employers the ability to understand key trends — for the driver and the entire company.
Documented driver performance and actions taken by an employer can help reduce the cost of insurance and workers compensation premiums and are a proven weapon in the event that a work-related crash results in litigation.
At the end of the day, managing and monitoring driver performances also requires consistent communication and a commitment to enforcing stated company driving policies. When employees understand what is expected of them – and those expectations are reinforced by employers – both win.
And why can’t this communication also be fun? By recognizing and rewarding employees for safe driver performances, it creates a culture that not only supports driver safety but recognizes it when it happens.
Employers should consider imposing quarterly reward programs that take into account the number of consecutive days without a motor vehicle incident or acknowledging employee completion of online driver training programs with a certificate to mark the occasion.
With so many drivers on the road today, creating a culture of safety is an ongoing effort. Businesses must recognize and understand their risks and take proactive steps to ensure they understand real-time changes in driving behaviours that warrant concern. But they also have a duty to then take action on that knowledge.
When implemented correctly, a good driver risk program can pay for itself within the shortest possible time period by:
- Reducing accidents
- Modifying driver behaviour
- Mitigating the risk associated with poor drivers
- Reducing the cost of insurance premiums, worker’s comp, and claims due to liability/negligence
- Decreasing administrative time and cost
In the end, our communities are safer when businesses take responsibility for setting the standards their drivers follow. And when our communities are safer, we all win.