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New guide highlights post-Covid need for fleet safety management

Date: 21 January 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

The end of the Covid-19 pandemic will provide a one-off opportunity for businesses to get to grips with road safety, which they cannot afford to pass up, according to a new guide.

'Road Safety Pays Dividends' has been published by the not-for-profit Fleet Industry Advisory Group (FIAG).

It states that, while it is easy to say that managing work-related road safety will always pay off, there must be a real change in management approach to achieve it, along with an acknowledgement that a post-Covid world will be different.

The guide states: "It is difficult to understand, but it is a reality, that many organisations have in most instances historically turned a blind eye to the avoidable and unnecessary costs associated with the management of vehicles and drivers.

"Avoiding confrontation was without doubt, the easier option. By simply accepting the extra expenditure as an unavoidable addition to the budget, management chose the easy way out. It was never the right policy and, in many instances, the costs would have been considerable.

"With unemployment rising to historical levels and the challenges on margins increasing, the need for change is no longer an option but an absolute. There has never been a better time to get it right."

FIAG states that fleets have faced numerous challenges since the first Covid-19 lockdown was implemented, including home-working drivers' vehicles not moving for months on end, restricted availability of service and MOT facilities, and an increasing number of fleet professionals being furloughed.

FIAG chairman Ian Housley said: "It is vital to begin the recovery from this unprecedented experience by ensuring best practice processes are implemented that cover drivers, vehicles and journeys.

"Companies need to recognise that drivers of company vehicles need to be an inclusive component of a pandemic recovery plan.

"As well as protecting the considerable investment made in vehicle fleets by employers it will help improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs and make driving safer."

Housley said that the traditional fleet manager was now almost non-existent within many organisations, and therefore many companies had lost the in-house knowledge and skills necessary to develop and deliver a post Covid-19 cost effective fleet operation. 

"The squeeze on fleet managers is getting worse as more than ever vehicle fleets are being managed by someone as part of a much wider remit and often without any true fleet management experience," he said.

The guide, available to download from the FIAG website, argues that if employees take ownership of their responsibilities towards driving safely at work, and in doing so protecting the company's vehicle assets, this is helping to protect the company's future, and therefore the security of their own job.

It states that 20% of fleet drivers are estimated to be responsible for 80% of fleet maintenance costs, from factors such as crash damage, tyre wear, and excessive fuel use, and says this demonstrates the potential for an effective driver performance monitoring and management system to reduce costs.

The guide argues that, for many businesses, fleets represent a significant percentage of total expenditure that cannot be ignored, while employers also face legal risks if they ignore their road safety responsibilities.

It states: "Vehicle and associated costs can add significant amounts to business overheads and drain profits - if indeed a profit is made. This state of affairs, wherever it exists, cannot continue.

"To protect jobs and to ensure business survival, control of vehicles and all associated related costs must be of the highest priority."