Paul Beresford from Defensive Driver Training looks at the recent alarming estimate that only 41% of company drivers have received any formal driver training.
First posted in October 2015
Although the insurance companies became involved in driver training in the 90s, there were a series of other incidents that took place that also helped encourage fleet driver training. The Corporate Manslaughter Act was one of the things that had an effect. This meant that there was a charge brought to individual employees following an accident or death on the roads if it was caused by a company driver.
This came to force once the authorities realised that there was a very real risk from overworked, over tired and under trained employees out on the roads. After all, driving tends to be one of the most dangerous things that employees can do on a company’s behalf. Therefore, the potential charge of corporate manslaughter tightened it’s grip on industry, and fleet managers felt obliged to protect themselves and their employers from prosecution.
The Corporate Manslaughter Act meant that there was a need for a named person responsible in a prosecution.
When there’s a death on the road, it’s often treated as a murder, and the police will work their way backwards. Was the driver working at the time? How many hours did they work that day? Had the vehicle been properly serviced and deemed safe to drive? Was there any risk assessment involved? How many hours did the employee work on any given week? These are the questions that could lead to an individual who wasn’t even there being prosecuted for the crime.
Following this, we were suddenly talking to the MD and FD, not the fleet managers, as they would be the ones in the dock if employees were killed on the roads. The bottom line is that any risk can be drastically reduced by training. During the recession there was a huge cut back on training budgets, and companies didn’t train their drivers as much as they had done in the past.
For the first 18 months or so, there is no obvious deterioration in claims cost, but after this we see the rate of accidents accelerate exponentially. They might save fifty thousand pounds on their training budget, but at the other end, their insurance premium could go up by two million pounds. In addition there are prosecutions to worry about.
Many of our long-standing clients stayed with us throughout the recession, but with a more targeted training strategy of training drivers identified as “high risk”. This is a great way to ensure that they are safe without training every single driver. They will often train those who are under 24, those who have made claims in the last twelve months or those who are foreign nationals who aren’t used to driving on UK roads with a UK Familiarisation Course.
In addition, many companies will include driver training in their graduate scheme as an add-on. The key is to invest the training budget wisely, ensure the safety of high-risk drivers and limit mitigation.