Smaller vehicle fleets are putting safety on the back seat and not being proactive to protect themselves from potentially huge claims.
Brake and Licence Bureau questioned 228 fleets about driver education and the topics they cover, including mobile phone use and speeding. Around half (49%) operate fewer than 100 vehicles and they found a third are failing to educate or train their drivers in key areas.
The most common areas covered were mobile phones and other distractions (63%), hazard awareness (58%) and speed awareness (57%).
Two-thirds (68%) don’t tell drivers to slow down to 20mph around schools, homes and shops, and six in 10 (61%) don’t instruct drivers to look twice for bikes at junctions.
Although two-thirds (67%) instruct drivers not to use any kind of mobile phone at the wheel, only one in four (26%) tell drivers to switch their phones off.
Almost one in four (23%) do not tell drivers to take any simple life-saving measures.
It is estimated that up to 95% of crashes are down to driver error.
A key risk for at-work drivers is mobile phone use. Brake studies show at-work drivers are much more likely to use mobiles at the wheel than those who do not drive for work.
Research has found that drivers speaking on phones are four times more likely to be in a crash that causes injury, whether on a hands-free or hand-held phone.
Ellie Pearson, senior professional engagement officer at Brake, said, “It’s crucial that all fleet operators are providing regular and ongoing education and awareness training for their drivers, and it’s worrying to see that three in 10 operators still fail to do this.
“It’s very positive to see operators providing training on key issues such as distraction and hazard awareness, but obviously we’d like to see a holistic approach to education, covering all areas of risk.”
Businesses falling foul of health and safety legislation or corporate manslaughter could face tougher penalties.
The Sentencing Council has announced its recommendations for corporate man-slaughter and health and safety offences as guidelines for judges hearing cases.
The new guidelines aim to “ensure sentences are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence while, as required by law, taking into account the financial circumstances of the offender”.
This will include a review of the company’s annual turnover, which the fine will be based on. However, the new guidelines will take into account the company’s overall finances before confirming the amount.