June 28, 2017

Good drivers are good for business

Driver behaviour directly impacts on the operating costs of your business. If your team drives safely and economically, you will save money and deliver a better service to your customers. In other words, good drivers are good for business. Poor quality drivers, however, increase costs and lower the performance of your business.

Improving the quality of driving in your business takes time as you must engage, educate, and then encourage behavioural change with drivers. That said, the benefits of doing so are significant.

The Impact of Poor Quality Driving on Your Business

Poor quality driving affects your business in several ways. This includes:

  • Damaging the reputation of your business
  • Increasing your exposure to risk
  • Increasing your fuel costs
  • Increasing your fleet maintenance costs
  • Lowering the value of your fleet

Poor quality driving is also bad for the environment. Let's look at each of these items in more detail.

Business Reputation

Your drivers can damage the reputation of your business through accidents as well as by aggressive or discourteous driving. Your reputation can also be affected in other ways. For example, poor driving increases the amount of maintenance you must perform on vehicles in your fleet, keeping them off the road for longer. This can affect the service you provide to customers which has an impact on your business reputation.

Increases Exposure to Risk

Poor quality driving can put your drivers, other employees, other workers, customers, and members of the public at risk. The asset is also at risk when it is operated by a bad driver.

Every year, fleet vehicles are involved in more accidents than any other type of vehicle. In addition, two-thirds of worker fatalities between 2003 and 2015 involved vehicles.

Increases Fuel Costs

You have limited options available to reduce the cost of fuel in your business. This particularly applies if you already have fuel efficient vehicles in your fleet. You can negotiate low rates with your fuel supplier but there is only so low they will be able to go. In other words, the best option you have to lower fuel costs is to reduce the amount of fuel you use.

If you are not a large business that can replace your vehicles regularly and negotiate the lowest fuel prices, using as little fuel as possible is even more important. In fact, you can reduce fuel costs in your business by up to 7.4 percent by training drivers to drive economically.

Driving economically involves maintaining a steady speed, avoiding traffic to minimise idle time, switching the vehicle off when it is not in use, slowing down, keeping the windows up when driving - particularly on high-speed roads and using cruise control.

Damages the Environment

As bad driving often involves using more fuel than necessary, it also has a direct impact on the environment. Operating fuel-efficient vehicles can help, but one of the easiest ways to be environmentally friendly is to use as little fuel as possible, and that can be as easy as changing your fleet's driver behaviour.

Increases Maintenance Costs

Poor driving can increase the wear and tear on a vehicle which also increases maintenance costs. In fact, up to 75 percent of the unscheduled maintenance costs for your fleet is a result of poor driving.

Lowers Vehicle Resale Value

The increase in wear and tear that bad driving causes can also lower the resale value of vehicles in your fleet.

What Does Good Driving Look Like?

Here are some key components of good quality driving:

  • Being aware of hazards and risks on the road.
  • Following all road laws including speed limits. In fact, reducing your speed by 5km/h in a 60km/h area potentially reduces the risk of crashing by 31 percent.
  • Allowing enough time for the journey so the driver is not distracted by the potential of being late. Allowing enough time for the journey also reduces the temptation to take unnecessary risks to make up time.
  • Understanding the dangers of fatigue and the fact that fatigue is a contributory factor in over 20 percent of road accidents. Gooddriving means not driving when tired.
  • Understanding how certain medications can impair driving ability and not driving when using them.
  • Not drinking alcohol or taking drugs before driving.
  • Not using a mobile phone while driving including keeping hands-free calls to a minimum
  • Performing basic checks on the vehicle such as tyre condition, window cleanliness, mirror cleanliness, and windscreen washer fluid level

How to Improve the Quality of Driving in Your Business

The steps you can take to improve the quality of driving in your business include:

  • Identify problem areas - telematics systems significantly help with this process.
  • Educate drivers on how to drive well including driving safely and fuel efficiently.
  • Have a process that inducts new drivers and shows them how to be a good driver.
  • Inform drivers that driving behaviour will be monitored through telematics. This will help improve driving standards over the medium and long term.
  • Proactively monitor driver behaviour through telematics to identify trends or individual driving issues you should address.
  • Carry out regular driving refresher training.

It is important to also establish a culture of driver accountability and driver ownership of their actions. Some ways to achieve this include setting targets, offering incentives, and ranking drivers so they can see how they drive compared to their colleagues.

Another effective approach is to provide telematics systems that let drivers manage their own driving behaviour to see if they are driving well. Often this is more effective than being told by a manager. With this type of system in place, drivers will self-regulate their driving style and performance.

Improving the quality of driving in your business is an ongoing process, but it will bring significant benefits.

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