Manage driver behaviour in 5 easy steps

Driving is statistically one of the most dangerous work-related activities, with company car drivers 49% more likely to be involved in an accident than other drivers, even after their higher mileages are taken into account, according to a recent study by the Occupational Road Safety Alliance.

In addition, a Department for Transport study on work-related road traffic accidents also found that drivers who drive more than 80% of their annual mileage on work-related journeys have 53% more accidents than similar drivers who have no work-related mileage .

As a fleet manager, you have a duty to assess, train and supervise your drivers and to manage the conditions under which they drive in order to reduce the risks both to your employees and other road users.

Road accidents are caused not just by driver error, but also by the nature of the driving your employees do, such as their schedules, time pressures and distractions.

You can help maintain a good safety standard with a few simple steps using driver assessments that determine both a driver’s risk and competence.

1. Licence checks

Since the abolition of the paper counterpart to the driving licence, there’s an easy way to check on a driver’s record, using an online tool.

Drivers can access their driving record at official police departement and then share the information with you. You can then check their eligibility for driving different classes of vehicles and licence endorsements as appropriate.

2. Medical and eyesight checks

Drivers need to complete a medical declaration that they’re fit to drive when they’re first recruited and at regular intervals during their employment (annually, or every two or three years, depending on your company policy). This includes regular eyesight tests. Drivers of large vehicles have to pass higher medical standards than car or small van drivers.

3. Using telematics data

Telematics systems can provide a wealth of data on driver attitudes and behaviour, as they record a wide range of performance parameters.

For example, if a driver’s data shows numerous instances of sudden braking, this could point to poor observational and anticipatory skills, and frequent near misses. Even if these drivers aren’t involved in actual collisions, it suggests that it’s only a matter of time before they have one.

This telematics data can be used to find weaknesses in driver behaviour and pinpoint areas in which remedial training can help the driver become safer and more efficient.

As useful as telematics are, the collated data is only really useful if it is viewed regularly and used proactively to provide tailored and personalised feedback to drivers.

4. Sharing information 

Information on employees is held by a number of people in the organisation, all of who might hold a piece of the jigsaw that adds up to a full driver behaviour profile.

In addition to fleet managers, HR managers and line managers might have important data that can give a clear picture of an employee’s behaviour, so it’s vital to ensure that all parties continually share information.

For example, if an employee is under particular stress – struggling to achieve sales targets, perhaps – this may affect their behaviour behind the wheel. If their line managers tells you, the fleet manager, about this problem, you can provide focused training for the driver to help them remain relaxed when driving.

5. Assessment and training

Regular assessment and training is essential for all fleet drivers, both at the start of their employment and throughout it.

If new employees are required to drive as a big part of their job, assessment as part of their recruitment is recommended. This could involve a theory element as well as an on-road assessment of their driving abilities.

If they are hired, their induction period should include sessions on vehicle familiarisation (and regular routes, if applicable); company rules and regulations (which are best compiled in a driver handbook); and an explanation on how any telematics system works and the data available to them to review their performance.

During a fleet driver’s employment, regular assessments and training updates are considered best practice. Areas worthy of special attention can be highlighted by telematics or the driver’s crash record. Meanwhile, telematics that demonstrates accomplished driving skills can be used to help with advanced driver training.

Training can take the form of seminars or workshops, conducted by qualified staff or external trainers, e-learning courses – with tests at the end to ensure the employee has completed the training – refresher driving tests to ensure bad habits haven’t been picked up, and reviews of telematics data, so the employee can see any trends in their driving behaviour they need to take note of, or require training for.

Keeping your drivers safe, and ensuring other road users are safe from your drivers’ actions, is a key part of a fleet manager’s job. Dangerous or costly driver behaviour can be minimalised with cross-departmental communication, telematics, medical tests and regular assessments as well as on-going training – both for new and experienced drivers alike.