A close friend of ours crashed her car the other day.

Nothing too serious. It was at very slow speed, she was shaken but fine and so was the other party, and both vehicles were dented but still driveable. If this was a company driver it would be classed as a small incident.

It was fascinating to be part of the conversations that followed. The friend spent over an hour in our house telling my wife every detail of the incident, how it had happened, how upset she was by the damage to her car, how she now had to sort out all the insurance, the inconvenience of losing her car for a while and having to have a courtesy vehicle and, of course, how upsetting and frightening the whole event had been.

In the days that followed I don’t think I came across a single other mutual friend or member of my family who didn’t immediately mention the accident. It was at the top of every conversation for roughly a week.

I compare that to accidents that involve corporate drivers and wonder whether we’ve begun to dumb down what an accident is.

Apart from with some road safety campaigners, such as Brake, rarely do you read in the press about how dangerous or frightening it is to be involved in a collision, the effect it has on the driver and their family and the upset it can bring.

What is talked about is the cost and inconvenience, and I’ll be the first to admit that at E-Training World we sometimes find ourselves commoditising smaller incidents, where no party is injured, and talking to clients about them as a process that needs to be managed carefully.

Please don’t get me wrong here. As a road safety campaigner I’m acutely aware of the devastation accidents can bring to people and families. However, many of us have fallen into corporate speak, using very stale statements, such as cost, process and compliance.

The harsh reality is that all too many companies still review their accidents on a spreadsheet as another KPI (key performance indicator) that needs to be reduced.

Regrettably, I often see other KPIs higher up the priority list that are far less serious.

So I ask the fleet sector an open question. Have we become so used to the phrases “duty of care” “risk management” and “driver safety” that they are just terms used on a fleet “to do” list next to contract hire costs, fuel cards, maintenance and other key topics?

Or is this issue seen with far more importance?

Surely anything where lives are at stake should be given far different treatment than where they are not.

Perhaps a good gauge is where it sits on the list of topics at your next fleet review meeting: is it the first item on the agenda?

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