Prevention is better than cure: The AA urges managers to be risk aware

Accident management is a key aspect in running and maintaining a safe and effective fleet. However, in order to increase efficiencies, it is vital that fleet managers take an holistic approach to the overall management of their fleet. A proven way in which fleets and SMEs can do this is by becoming more risk aware and to focus on implementing changes to avoid needless downtime.

Recent changes to legislation saw the fixed penalty for being caught using a mobile phone or hand-held device while driving increase from £100 to £200* and six points on an offender’s licence on 1 March 2017.

New research for the AA shows that drivers consider texting while driving (71%) to be more than twice as risky as drink-driving (29%)**. And with the majority of fleet and SME motorists not driving as their primary job, it is vital that fleet managers make their staff aware of the changes to legislation immediately.

Stuart Thomas, head of fleet and SME services at the AA, said: “The AA has always focused on promoting responsible driving. Research undertaken by the AA shows a call or text is proven to cause distraction reducing the ability to concentrate.

“With motoring legislation changing regularly, it can be difficult for motorists to keep up to date with changes. Because of this, confusion can arise, which is why fleet managers must alert their team to the updates without delay.”

Thomas continued: “Penalties incurred by drivers will not just impact them personally, but can have huge ramifications for businesses. This can include issues such as lack of availability of insurance providers and increasing premiums, through to downtime from staff attending compulsory training, possible court attendance and even loss of revenue.”

The most effective way of reducing the risk to businesses is through educating staff. Training will help motorists become better drivers through encouraging responsible practices and raising awareness of the impact that distraction from mobile phone use can have.

The Operational Fleet Insight Report, produced by the AA in conjunction with BT Fleet, recently revealed that 58% of drivers would be interested in training in order to improve their driving skills. This positive attitude towards education should be viewed encouragingly by fleet managers and ought be acted upon by including training as part of a wider safe driving strategy.
Improving driver behaviour is one of the most effective ways in reducing accidents. By investing in driver training, businesses can lessen risks at the same time as protecting their staff against harm. Plus, by placing an emphasis on driver safety, fleet managers can enjoy a closer working relationship with their team. By adopting a softer approach and using data from telematics, managers can assess skills and knowledge gaps in order to provide further training, rather than penalising staff.

Although it’s important to have accident management policies in place, it’s critical to ensure that risk is minimised to help lessen the chances of an accident occurring in the first place. Educating company employees is not just about driver training that covers behind the wheel knowledge, it should also encompass vehicle checks to give drivers a more well-rounded direction on how to get the best performance from their cars.

Thomas added: “We are calling for fleet managers to take a joined-up approach and actively realise the link between risk mitigation and accident management. By investing in tools, training and techniques, companies can create a safer working environment for their staff and safeguard their business through efficient and effective working strategies.”

Ensuring companies are fully up to date on changes to legislation is arguably the easiest way of ensuring compliance and protecting both the company, its staff and third parties from harm.

Minimising the chances of preventable accidents should be the first step a fleet manager should take when evaluating their business. Here, maintenance is key, with vehicles that are regularly serviced less likely to be involved in an accident. For example, 16.9% of callouts to the AA are for wheel and tyre issues. By making regular checks on tyre tread depth and pressure, drivers can help reduce the chance of an accident or breakdown relating to wheels and tyres. This results in a lower level of vehicle and staff downtime and reducing overall costs.

Thomas added: “We are dedicated to providing our fleet and SME customers with the best service possible and do this by becoming their partners rather than just another supplier. The AA prides itself on its customer service. Building relationships with clients allows us to become more aware of the specific needs that fleet and SMEs require. Our team is in the prime position to advise fleet managers on the topics and issues they need to be aware of and to help support driving for work policies.

The AA is honoured to have been independently named as the UK’s Most Trusted Brand, as well as being a Which? Recommended Provider for ten consecutive years. Recently, the AA Fleet and SME division was awarded the Fleet News Award for Customer Service and was highly commended for Fleet Supplier of the Year 2017.

* The fixed penalty for a CU80 hand-held mobile phone offence increases from £100 and 3 points to £200 and 6 points from 1 March 2017.

** Populus interviewed 17,575 AA members between 17-24 December in an on-line poll.  Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its code of conduct.

Quotes were provided from 13 insurance companies that quote on the AA’s panel in January 2017.  Fixed penalty for a CU80 (breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, mobile phone etc) was at the time of research 3pts and £100 fine.  DD40 for dangerous driving carries a maximum penalty of 11pts or disqualification and an unlimited fine.

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