Smartrak attended the 2019 Australasian Fleet Management Association (AfMA) Professional Development Forum in Melbourne and among the subjects was a session on bringing a more holistic approach to driver safety.

Smartrak’s taken a stance on creating a safety conscious culture in the workplace and empowering all employees to be safe workplace champions, so any thinking that broadened our horizons with regard to safety was bound to get our attention.

The session was presented by AfMA Executive Director, Mace Hartley, and his over 30 years’ experience in fleet management, retail automotive and general insurance was evident in the comprehensive understanding he had of the many factors that contribute to vehicle accidents.

Mace began by addressing the misapprehension that choosing the right vehicle from a safety perspective (ANCAP 5-Star vehicle with added optional safety features) completes the process. Or in his words: Considering that the job as ‘done and dusted’ just because you’ve put the driver in a safe vehicle.

Next up, we were introduced to a representative vehicle accident and then workshopped the many reasons why this could have happened, outside of a fault with the vehicle or road conditions. The catalogue of missteps and operational lapses was extensive, and while any of them could have proved fatal in our scenario, they were all avoidable.

The reasons for the accident ranged from the mundane, such as the driver slept in and was speeding to catch up, or didn’t correctly review his journey before setting off, to the strategically flawed: should the driver even have been driving to that meeting?

In any creative exploration such as this it’s easy to write off some reasons as being beyond the remit of an operations manager, but that’s to duck the very real capacity management has to positively influence issues through journey and task planning, accurate driver log keeping and efficient resource management.

If a driver sleeps in because he worked too many hours the day before, or is driving to a meeting when a car sharing solution with a teammate would have been more appropriate, we are absolutely looking at operational issues.

Others items that came in for investigation included: poor journey management, no hands-free for the mobile phone , poor planning, no breaks , distractions coming in from the office, communicating with clients, poor time management, technology (telematics), fatigue management and the health of the employee.

Finding a solution or solutions when faced with such a wide array of potential causes for accidents seems impossible, but Mace showed how standard management principles could provide the answers, particularly if telematics capabilities are providing the vital insights required.

Several policies were proposed, and some of them, in addition to creating a safer driving environment, also made good management sense:

  • Vehicle Induction Policy
  • Pre-start Vehicle Inspection Policy
  • Journey Management Policy
  • Fatigue Management Policy
  • Driver Distraction Policy
  • Safe Use of Mobile Phone Policy
  • Drug & Alcohol Policy
  • Speed and Adverse Conditions Policy

This was a good place to end the session, with the realisation that health and safety is not a distinct issue, that’s divorced from other management priorities; it’s an integral part of the workplace, and the effects of getting it wrong will impact on the bottom line.

One of Smartrak’s customers cut traffic fines from 36 a year to just 6 and reduced the bill for windscreen replacements from $16,000 a year to $9,000, simply by tracking and enforcing driving policies.

Safety makes good business sense. To find out more about creating a safer workplace, and operational tools that Smartrak can provide to achieve this, alongside delivering greater efficiency and productivity, contact Smartrak.