Improve performance and reduce costs
Having got your essential first steps under control, you may like to look at some additional actions that can really start to deliver performance improvements for your business. There are a range of tools at your disposal to help improve driver behaviour, reduce collisions and avoidable damage to your fleet, and significantly reduce some of the major costs associated with your fleet such as insurance and fuel use.
Fleet Management Software
Fleet Management Software (FMS) systems enable you to simply manage your drivers and vehicles, with all the relevant information in one place. An FMS system makes it easy to maintain and update records and easy to access information quickly as required. It allows you to link drivers to vehicles and receive regular alerts when insurance, MOT, road tax and servicing is due, and also helps manage compliance documentation such as driver policies and safety updates.
Some systems will allow you to check licences and vehicles directly with the DVLA and DVSA, and also integrate date from your telematics and online driver assessment systems.
By far the most effective way of reducing collisions and associated costs is to look hard at your vehicle selection policy and encourage drivers to select vehicles with these systems. The most important of these systems is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) which performs an emergency stop if the driver fails to brake when about to hit the vehicle in front, and advanced versions that also prevent collisions with pedestrians. AEB has been proven to reduce rear-end crashes by 38%! Not all cars have these systems as standard but they are now a requirement for achieving a EuroNCAP 5-star safety rating. DfBB partner Volvo Cars is the only manufacturer to fit AEB as standard equipment across its entire range.
Driver Assessment and Training
Most drivers can handle the physical task of driving a car or a van but many have a poor understanding of some very important safety issues. Many don’t understand the true level of distraction caused by a mobile phone call, or appreciate the distance required to react and stop when travelling at speed. Other drivers could benefit from training in hazard perception or low speed manoeuvring.
There are a range of options for assessing and training drivers. Assessment can be done in-vehicle or through an online system with a range of hazard perception and reaction tests. Coaching and training can be expensive when looking at all staff however classroom workshops and online training can be much more cost-effective. Employers who hire graduates or novice van drivers would be well-advised to conduct some form of in-car assessment and coaching programme to ensure they are comfortable with the vehicle and type of driving they will be expected to undertake.
Dash cameras can be relatively easily hard-wired into the vehicle, or temporarily fitted to short term vehicles by plugging them into the vehicles 12v socket. A good HD system with GPS will provide high quality images in all weathers and additional data such as location tracking through Google Maps, as well as speed and G-force data in the event of a collision.
Cameras provide incontrovertible evidence in the event of a collision, helping your insurance company recover the costs from ‘at fault’ third parties and protecting your own premium, but they also encourage drivers to be compliant as they know any driving errors that cause a collision will be readily apparent.
Telematics systems can be either hard-wired into the vehicle and transmit data to the fleet manager via a mobile data connection, or they can take advantage of the latest smartphone app technology to reduce hardware costs and make them more accessible.
The fleet manager dashboard will display key information about all your drivers and vehicles, allowing you to identify problems quickly, and make productive interventions who success you can track.
Short Term Rentals
The average age of a company car is one and and a half years old, yet the average age of a grey fleet car is over eight years old. These cars may not be suitable for the journeys being made, will be much less efficient and, due to their age, will not be fitted with the latest vehicle safety technology. They are often poorly serviced and maintained, may not even have a valid MoT Certificate, and may well not be correctly insured for business use.
Many companies are now turning to short-term car hire to help them manage this issue. For employees without the use of a company car, renting them a new vehicle for a business journey can help manage your duty of care and actually work out cheaper. You can specify cars that have a EuroNCAP 5-star rating ensuring your drivers are in the safest cars possible, and reduce the chances for business mileage claim fraud, which research has shown could be as much as 20% of your total claims.
Fleets that pay close attention to their work-related road risk, and implement solid policies and procedures to develop a safe driving culture throughout the organisation, often find their fuel bills come down as employees drive more considerately and, consequently, more efficiently. Alison Moriarty, multiple award-winning Fleet Risk and Compliance Manager at Skanska, and an active DfBB Champion, found savings of over £250,000 on vehicle damage repairs and additional associated costs such as mobile repairs, replacement vehicles and engineer costs. However, a year later, as Skanska’s drivers were now driving more smoothly, the fleet management team found that fuel spend had dropped by a staggering £1 million per year. That’s some saving!
It is also very easy to lose money to fuel theft where drivers also fill up a fuel can when they will their company vehicle, which is then used to top up their private car. Issuing fuel cards can be a good way of tracking fuel use, recording mileage at each refuel, and calculating fuel use per driver. Excessive fuel use can indicate a number of issues but gives you the information to identify and deal with the problem. You’ll also normally save between 5 and 10p per litre of fuel.
A great way of promoting the fact that your business takes this issue seriously is to prove it by joining a scheme such as the FTA’s award-winning Van Excellence scheme. Compliance with the scheme’s requirements to demonstrate good practice allows your business to display their logo on your fleet’s vehicles and be recognised as a high-standard vehicle operator.
If your manage your fleet well, and are happy to share your story with others to help spread good practice, you could also join our own elite group of fleet managers and become a Driving for Better Business Champion
Fleet industry magazines, and our own DfBB blog, carry constant articles on effective management of risk as well as interviews with successful fleet managers, while fleet events provide a great opportunity to discuss current trends, meet new suppliers, and network with other fleet managers and industry thought leaders.