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Technology alone not a solution for poor driving, says IAM RoadSmart

Tony Greenidge, business development director, IAM RoadSmart

Businesses are missing out on opportunities to improve road safety for their drivers by relying on technology alone to solve the problem for them.

That is one of the conclusions reached in the latest white paper from IAM RoadSmart, which also calls for driver retests and an end to lifetime licences

Entitled ‘Driver Education – What More Can Be Learned?’, the report considers the dangers of relying purely on technology, as in many cases the driving issues identified are not followed up with an appropriate and proactive driver training intervention.

It added that technology rarely influences driver behaviour or attitudes.

Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart business development director, said: “While technology can tell you ‘how’ it cannot determine the ‘why,’ and it is this piece of the jigsaw that many businesses leave unanswered.”

He stressed the importance of improving the skills and increasingly the behaviours of business drivers, particularly given the ever-present challenge of smartphones.

The report also says that whilst legislation around the need for driver risk management is very clear and already in place, there is a lack of clarity around the minimum standards required to be compliant.

The charity stated that many companies “check that their drivers have the appropriate licences and feel that their responsibility ends there. In some cases they may employ technology to monitor driver behaviour, but typically this is used more as a way of maximising operational efficiency as opposed to improving safety.”

The report also advocated that training should not be restricted to a one-off session – but instead be a life-long continuous process.

Building on this, Greenidge added: “Perhaps we should require people to retake their test after a certain number of years? There is a growing belief that we should.

“I cannot think of another single task as difficult, complex, important or as dangerous as driving on business, where quite literally, you can perform well for just an hour of your life – during the driving test – and that’s all that’s required for the next 60 years or more. Given the rapid changes in technology, legislation and congestion this just does not seem logical.”

The report also explores the immense cost to businesses in terms of inefficient driving which can lead to vehicle damage, poor fuel consumption, lost productivity, uninsured liabilities and medical expenses – as well as impacting on road safety.

“There is no doubt that the biggest influencer in fuel consumption is the driver’s right foot. Using an example of a driver doing 20,000 business miles per annum in a diesel vehicle, a 5mpg improvement in fuel consumption is worth around £330 a year,” it said. “Based on this simple example it is clear that small improvements in driving style and behaviour can make a big impact on cost as well as safety.”

And Greenidge said that it seems odd that building the business case for driver training and securing the budget can involve a very long sign-off process when the cost of implementing a comprehensive risk management programme can be as little as just £5 per month, per driver.

He concluded: “For the price of a large coffee per driver per month it is possible to put a comprehensive, fully auditable and compliant driver risk management programme in place and deliver substantial savings.”

To download the full IAM report, click here.

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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