POSTHUMOUS WHOLE LIFE COSTS COULD PINPOINT WHERE THE PROBLEMS LIE

Posthumous whole life costs.jpg

Whole life costs, which include a vehicle’s depreciation, SMR (service, maintenance and repair), fuel and road fund tax, are commonplace in establishing company car policies and budget setting.

Yet, these pre-event costs can only include current and forecasted data, which leaves a few things out. A vehicle’s true cost will depend on how it’s driven. The number of accident repairs, actual fuel usage, the real maintenance cost caused by poor or aggressive driving and its use of tyres and brakes. I’m sure many contract hire and fleet management companies can report on most of this when the vehicle is returned, but to what extent do companies work out a real posthumous pence per mile of a de-fleeted vehicle?

There will be a number of fleet managers who come forward to say they have this data to hand, and I’d be interested to hear from any that do.

Yet, for those that don’t, imagine how powerful it would be to pull together the total contract hire rentals paid (including any extensions) or the real depreciation, fuel, maintenance, fast fit, accident repair, hire car costs (as a result of a vehicle off road), and recharges/end of life repair costs. Divide this by the number of actual miles to give a ‘real’ whole life cost which is as much about the driver as it is the vehicle.

Sounds good doesn’t it. But many will be also thinking it seems a lot of work.

A simpler alternative would be to risk assess your drivers using an online profiling tool. In doing so, you could pinpoint those most likely to have an accident and factor in another forecasted cost – namely the added expense of a high risk driver being in one of your vehicles.

Take, for example, a budgeted pence per mile of 45p over 60,000 miles. That’s a whole life cost of £27,000. Add in a forecast of, lets say, £5,000 of accident costs and suddenly the pence per mile has shot up to 53 pence.

It’s at that point, that driver training suddenly looks like a very worthwhile investment. The cost of using online courses to minimise the chance of the driver incurring that extra 8 pence per mile is approximately £50 per year. Or, to put it in perspective, it’s a ¼ of a pence per mile, taking the original 45 pence to 45.25 pence.

MOBILE PHONE OBSESSION COULD LEAD TO PROBLEMS DOWN THE LINE

If, like me, you have kids you’re probably exasperated by their obsession with mobile phones.

In their lives, the phone is the number one priority. Nothing else comes close.

mobile phoesn.jpg

You can be in the middle of an important conversation, the phone beeps and their shutters go down. Whatever you were talking about is, effectively, over – replaced by the message or notification that’s arrived.

Even if, during a family meal, you ban them from looking at their phones, you know that if one goes off in a child’s pocket their attention is gone. They may not be allowed to look, but you’ve lost them until they’re able to take a peek. Some reports are comparing it to drug addiction and its worrying that society is so hooked on its mobile devices, and social media, that young people simply cannot be without it. It worried me particularly when looking through some recent family photos taken at a wedding, and on almost every photo there is a child somewhere staring at a screen.

So, if we accept that this is an accurate description of 99% of teenage children in the UK, we need to appreciate that this same generation in a few years will all be driving.

When driving, you need to have 100% of your attention on the road, and its bad enough now that many drivers, even those who never grew up with mobile technology, are flouting mobile phone laws believing that taking a call or answering a text is more important than their safety and that of other road users.

But with the next generation far more mobile phone-obsessed than anyone currently driving, do we really think they will put their phones away when they get behind the wheel?

In my mind, irrespective of ever-tightening laws, far greater investment is needed in educating children about the dangers of mobile devices and driving. In fact, I feel young people need to be steered away from the constant use of their devices in general, as society will ultimately suffer as it get more compulsive through the generations.

I also feel businesses employing young people, who are going to be driving, should make it a really essential part of the company induction process to educate and train them about not using mobile devices – and that’s where e-learning can help by putting every new starter through an online course; not just to educate them but as a clear signal that the company takes this very seriously.


WHY DO DRIVERS RARELY LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES?

Lets look at some common phrases you’re likely to hear regarding a collision. ‘Accidents happen’ ‘Never admit liability’ ‘It wasn’t my fault’ ‘The car in front slammed its brakes on’ ‘He came out of nowhere’

ehy do drivers rareluy learn from mistakes.jpg

Now lets consider some others. ‘I got it wrong’ ‘I was driving too close’ ‘I wasn’t paying attention’ ‘My driving was very poor’ ‘I caused the collision’.

I’m sure all fleet managers would agree that they hear far more of the first set of phrases than the second. Its part of a much greater problem that most drivers still believe that accidents can’t be avoided and that, if asked, you never admit fault.

But if we won’t admit fault even behind closed doors to our fleet manager, how will we ever learn from our mistakes? And if we’re not learning from our mistakes, how can we stop them happening again?

The harsh reality is that many fleet managers are constantly bemoaning their growing accident repairs bill, as well as the cost of vehicles off road, hire cars, the administration involved in dealing with accidents and so on. But, they’re also finding it hard to resolve because drivers never believe they are in the wrong, driver training can be hard to justify if no-one believes the drivers are making mistakes, and the consensus is that accidents are an unavoidable aspect of running a fleet of vehicles.

So, what’s the solution?

One way is through a post collision interview. These interviews should never be made up of simple ‘form filling’ questions asking what happened, with no further action taken.

Instead, the interviewer should be trained to ask the right questions in order to delve deep into the real reason for the crash; the purpose being to reveal the truth and ‘root cause’ as to why and how the incident occurred, and to get the driver to recognise this too.

Was there something playing on the driver’s mind? How much sleep had they had the night before? Were they using their hands-free mobile phone at the time or just prior to the crash? Were they going too fast because they were late for their next meeting, and are they attempting too many appointments in a day? Why were they so close to the car in front when it braked – for example, was it anger at the driver pulling out in front of them previously? Were they not looking – and if so, what were they looking at?

Using questions to drill down to the truth has a number of benefits. You find out what ‘really’ happened. You understand the root cause – which may have nothing to do with the driver’s ability. The driver appreciates, and more readily accepts, the real reason for the accident and can learn from it. You can take relevant action – whether it be driver training, or a disciplinary measure, or both! And more importantly, the driver is also more willing to accept your next steps, and learn from their mistakes, because you are both in agreement as to what happened and where fault lay.

WILL WE EVER SEE THE USE OF MOBILE PHONES BANNED IN VEHICLES?

It’s been an offence to use a hand held mobile phone whilst driving for years, yet every day we see drivers using their mobiles.

will we ever see the ban on phones .jpg

If we accept that driving whilst on the phone is a dangerous thing to do, you’d have thought the Government would have just decided to ban the use of mobile phones altogether (whether hand held or hands free).

Maybe the Government doesn’t think it is dangerous to make and receive calls when driving which is why they haven’t imposed the ban.

Well that’s clearly not the case because The Department for Transport’s Think! Website states, ‘Drivers are four times more likely to crash while using a mobile phone whilst driving’. It goes on to say that ‘Studies show that drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.’

So, lets get this straight. The Government knows it’s dangerous, even when hands free, but are allowing us to go ahead and do it anyway!

Why don’t they just ban it?

The problem, in my mind, is it’s too complicated. When the current legislation was drafted they were unable to decide on the wording to cover all mobile communication devices. If the legislation banned all use of two-way communication, taxi drivers wouldn’t be able to use radios, nor would emergency breakdown providers and even the emergency services wouldn’t be able to operate if there was only one person in the vehicle.

I can see the dilemma yet sadly by allowing phones to be used hands-free has resulted in drivers thinking it’s not dangerous. How often have you heard someone answering saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’m safe to talk because I’m hands free’.

So, assuming the law isn’t going to ban it, what can we do to discourage it?

Companies have the right to enforce their own blanket bans and I’d encourage many more to do this. Another tactic is to make drivers believe they don’t need to use the phone while driving.

At E-Training World our online training looks at both the safety and the ‘quality of the call’, and our evidence shows that drivers are unable to recall even 50% of the conversation anyway!

In fact, when you next have a meeting don’t let anyone take notes, cut out important parts of the conversation (to replicate signal loss), get everyone in the room to do something that relies on 100% of their concentration (to replicate driving) and then see how productive that time was.

The bottom line is, being on the phone while driving is dangerous, you can’t write down any notes, you often lose your signal and you can’t remember half of what’s been said to you anyway…so why are you doing it in the first place?


DOES A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE REALLY MATTER?

A survey by Halfords revealed that more than half of UK drivers do not know the basic rules of driving.

10 questions posed to 4,500 drivers ranged from road signs to the drink driving laws, with 59% of participants failing the test and only 11% answering all questions correctly.

This may come as a shock to many people but I’m not surprised at all. E-Training World’s online driver risk assessment is broken down into 4 sections; namely ‘Attitude’, ‘Knowledge’, ‘Concentration/Observation’ and ‘Hazard Perception’.

does lack of knowledge matter.jpg

The section that repeatedly causes drivers the biggest problem is the knowledge section, with more than a quarter showing a really concerning lack of understanding of road signs and laws. Some might argue that not knowing the rules of the road isn’t as serious as tailgating, driving at dangerous speeds or other actions that are the common causes of accidents.

I couldn’t disagree more. Road signs are there to guide and warn us while on the road, and the laws that govern our driving are there to make our roads safe. Drivers who lack basic knowledge cannot conduct themselves within the law, or react to signs, if they don’t know what they are or mean.

Lets move off the topic of driving for a moment and imagine this was the case for airline pilots or surgeons. How comfortable would you feel sitting in a cockpit and a warning comes up for the pilot to ignore it saying, ‘I have no idea what that means!’ The same with a surgeon, looking at a monitor with a warning message and not understanding what it is telling them.

If these professions lacked basic knowledge, you wouldn’t put your life in their hands. Yet as road users we all have to trust the actions of other drivers every day, and we are, effectively, putting our lives in their hands too – assuming other road users will stop at red lights, will respect rights of way and will be reacting to road laws and signs so that we can predict their actions and drive with confidence.

If you doubt the validity of this argument, next time you are in your car try saying out loud what every sign, road marking and road law means so that you are forced to prove to yourself whether your knowledge is up to scratch.

Alternatively, why not assess your own drivers and see how good their knowledge is. You may find yourself distributing copies of the Highway Code around the office, and considering training to improve driver knowledge, if your drivers sit within our national averages.

ARE WE PASSING ON DEADLY HABITS TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF DRIVERS?

Many people reading this will have kids. If they’re not yet 17 it probably hasn’t crossed your mind that every time they’re in the car they’re observing what you do. Lets face it, the way you driver now will influence their habits later. After all, kids learn from their parents.

So, can you say ‘hand-on-heart’ that you’re setting a good example to your children or any other young passengers in your vehicle?

You haven’t sent a quick text while they’re in the car with you? Made the occasional phone call without being hands free? Set the SatNav on the move, focusing more on that than the road ahead? Placed a sandwich on your knees when your partner dishes out the snacks while you’re driving on a family day out?

If you’re guilty of these behaviours, the frightening thought is that once their L-plates have been thrown away, your kids will have this behaviour embedded in them. If Mum or Dad does it, then surely it’s OK? If Dad doesn’t care about mobile phone laws, why should I?

If you’re of an age when mobile phones and in-vehicle technology wasn’t around when you were growing up, it may not have occurred to you what influence these things are having on the mindsets of youngsters.

Road safety teams often go into schools and preach to teenagers the dangers of driving. What a conflict of messages if their Dad then picks them up and is on the phone the whole way home.

So, next time you’ve got youngsters in the car, think again. Now is the time to set an example to them.

Lets aim for a new breed of drivers who saw that their Mum always locked her phone away when driving, that Dad always set the SatNav before pulling away – and that you drove safely because you valued your life, their lives and the lives of other road users.

Perhaps food for thought during the Easter break.

COLLISION CAUGHT ON BBC NEWS REPORT SHOWS HOW EASY IT IS TO BE DISTRACTED AT THE WHEEL

If you watched the BBC news report regarding Ant McPartlin’s trial for drink driving, you may have noticed how easily drivers can become distracted.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-43790415/car-collision-outside-ant-mcpartlin-sentencing

As a mass of news reporters gathered outside the courtroom, clearly causing passing motorists to look, it resulted in a collision on live TV.

Collision caught on roads.jpg

Many drivers still seem to believe its worth the risk to take their eyes off the road to glance at a text, change their playlist, alter their SatNav or look at what’s happening around them – such as rubbernecking on the motorway.

Yet, this BBC footage just goes to show how a momentary glance can lead to a collision, fortunately on this occasion not a serious one.

But imagine if someone had been crossing the road, or a child had stepped out. These moments of distraction can cause serious injury or death – just like lorry driver, Tomasz Kroker, who killed a woman and three children on the A34 when his vehicle ploughed into their stationary car while he was scrolling through music on his mobile phone. He has been jailed for 10 years.

The clear message we have to keep drumming into drivers’ minds is that it’s never acceptable or safe to take your eyes off the road. Ignore your phone, set up your music and SatNav before you drive, and if something is happening around you make sure, more than ever, that you are concentrating clearly on the road ahead – especially as its likely other drivers around you will be distracted.

But its not just looking away that distracts us from driving. Our state of mind can do so as well. If you’ve just come out of a bad meeting, or have left the house after an argument with your spouse or partner, your mind will be elsewhere and this is just as dangerous. Being distracted isn’t just about where your eyes are, its where your mind is too.

Anyone involved in the road safety field will tell you that there’s no such thing as an ‘accident’ – collisions are caused 99% of the time by human error. Being distracted in a variety of ways is a major contributor, and companies operating vehicle fleets can take action by repeatedly educating drivers about the dangers.

Never give up on reminding drivers to stay focused on the road ahead. Banging the drum and repeating the message could save a life.

IS UNSAFE DRIVING DOWN TO BAD HABITS?

There’s a fascinating book by Charles Duhigg called ‘The Power of Habit’, which looks at ‘why we do what we do’ and why we live our lives in a certain way.

To summarise, a habit is formed of three key elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward.

Take the example of arriving home after a long day at work. The cue is walking into the house and putting tea on. The habit is opening a bottle of wine and pouring a glass. The reward – a sense of relaxation and closure on the working day. On a healthier note, the same scenario could be the same cue of arriving home and putting tea on, but the habit being going for an evening run while the food cooks. The reward, feeling refreshed, fit and healthy!

The book shows how habits rule our lives, and to change our ways we need to recognise the cues, then alter the routine to deliver a different but equally satisfying reward.

Reading it made me think about driving, and how habitual we are behind the wheel. Most drivers will admit that they will always do the same thing when faced with certain cues.

Think about it. What’s your routine when you first get into the car in the morning? Do you start the engine and then put your seatbelt on? Do you find your favourite radio station before you drive off, or get going and then do it? Do you set the SatNav whilst still in the drive or head off and do it en route?

And when faced with certain other triggers, what is your habitual response? For example, a driver on the motorway trying to undertake you on the inside lane. Do you instinctively close the gap with the vehicle in front to stop them getting in front of you? Traffic lights about to change – is it your typical response to put your foot down to get through them?

The thing to ask yourself is what reward does this give you and could you enjoy a better reward by driving differently? The reward of blocking the undertaking driver is a sense of ‘winning’ – of not being beaten! Running a changing traffic light means you’ve made time and haven’t had to wait.

But what if you changed your response to these triggers and enjoyed different rewards.

By taking time to put your seatbelt on, set your SatNav and only start your engine when ready to drive, the reward is less stress, better safety and the calmness of not trying to do these things while driving.

By easing back when the undertaking driver creeps up on your left offers a reward of knowing you’re unlikely to be in an accident and reduced stress by not getting into battle with an aggressive driver. You also have the satisfaction of not taking the bait, adopting the moral high ground, knowing other safe drivers around you see you as a good driver and, if you are driving a sign written vehicle, portraying a positive image of your company.

As for slowing down when suspecting a traffic light is about to change means less chance of an accident and enjoying a slower, more satisfying pace of life.

So next time you’re contemplating the accident statistics of your company vehicle drivers, think about what habits could be causing them and suggest changing their response to certain triggers. Some companies reward their drivers for every year of accident free motoring. Now that may help change a few habits.

PAVEMENT PARKING – IS IT TIME TO IMPOSE A UK-WIDE BAN?

The Department for Transport has been considering putting a UK-wide end to pavement parking, bringing the rest of the nation into line with the capital.

Pavement parking creates danger for many people including the blind and partially sighted, wheelchair users, the elderly and mothers with prams.

As most London drivers should already know, it has been law in the capital since 1974 that drivers ‘must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it’. (Highway Code rule 244). You can get a fine for parking on the pavement in other parts of the UK, but it’s less set in stone.

Guide Dogs has long campaigned for pavement parking to be made illegal in the UK and its research suggests that almost half of UK drivers understand or consider the dangers of parking on the pavement, yet do so anyway. This has suggested that people are openly admitting to creating danger yet are choosing to ignore it.

The RAC has recommended that the public uses ‘common sense’. They say, if you are parking along a narrow road, where parking wholly on the road would stop other cars, and particularly emergency vehicles, from getting through, then it is a sensible option to park partially on a pavement, providing there are no parking restrictions and providing you are not blocking a wheelchair user or pram from using the pavement. If there are restrictions, or your parking would cause wheelchair users or people with prams to have to walk into the road, then you should find somewhere else to park.

The general consensus is, therefore, that pavements are for people, not vehicles. But perhaps this issue isn’t as straightforward to resolve as meets the eye, which is why the DfT has stalled for 40 years on a national ban since imposing the restrictions in London. After all, where would residents of narrow streets park if there are no off-street spaces available?

Whether this becomes national law or not, time will tell. But companies operating fleets can help to make our pavements safer by launching their own internal campaigns to stop their drivers doing it. By educating drivers of the importance of not blocking pavements or walkways, and alerting them to the dangers it causes the general public, and particularly more vulnerable pedestrians, would be an important step forward. After all, some drivers do it when its totally unnecessary due to lack of awareness and understanding of the dangers, and some simple education could bring the risks to their attention.

There’s also another side to this. If your vehicles are liveried, do you want to potentially damage your company’s brand by blocking paths – particularly if you are well-known in a local area?

So, rather than wait for a change to the law, lets preserve pavements for pedestrians and do our bit in the fleet sector to reduce this unsociable behaviour. In doing so, you may save a life and continue to improve the culture of safety within your business.

DRIVERS ADMIT IT! HALF OF THEM BREAK THE LAW WHEN DRIVING!

Recent research has shown that almost half (49%) of British motorists admit to breaking traffic laws, which equates to 10.5 million drivers based on DVLA records for the UK.

Drivers admit it.jpg

The survey by Whocanfixmycar.com reveals the staggering number of drivers who knowingly break the law but don’t believe they’ll be caught, reflecting an incredibly poor attitude towards driving by many motorists.

Considering the high numbers of drivers identified through our online driver profiling systems who also have a glaring lack of knowledge, it makes me wonder how many others are breaking the law without realising they’re doing it.

Attitude and knowledge are two of the four areas we assess when profiling drivers. Both are essential to safe driving because someone with the wrong attitude will take risks, knowingly break the law (as the survey reveals), tailgate, speed, try and overtake when its not safe, encourage road rage and display many other bad habits that heighten the risk of a collision for themselves and the other road users they encounter.

Examples of lack of knowledge are not knowing the legal tread depth on tyres, not appreciating what road signs mean and being unaware of many road laws – sometimes quite basic ones. On our systems, its knowledge where drivers struggle the most with many scoring worst in this section.

But what do we do to address it? Knowledge can be tackled relatively easily by asking all at-work drivers to read the Highway Code, then testing them on it.

Attitude can be more difficult, however I can give you a very simple example of how it can be changed in an instant.

Watch how people drive after witnessing an accident on the motorway. Most drivers slow down, ease back from the vehicle in front, drive more cautiously and take far greater care until the memory of that event wears off and they start speeding up again and following too close.

Similarly, if you’ve had a near miss yourself, it brings the dangers of driving to the forefront of your mind, altering your behaviour.

This proves that most drivers can drive more safely if they wish to, and that peoples’ attitudes can be changed.

The point is, one-off events or interventions (such as a half day on-road training course, one online module or a single road safety workshop) will only have an affect for a limited period of time.

The companies we have worked with who have decided to nurture a long-term culture of safe driving are those enjoying the greatest success, and they are providing on-going training, communication and awareness to their drivers.

Like many things in life, improving attitude is a marathon, not a sprint, but well worth the investment if it reduces your collisions, saves money, brings down the time involved in managing claims and, more importantly, saves lives.

WHAT’S MORE DANGEROUS? AN UNSAFE VEHICLE OR AN UNSAFE DRIVER?

The 20 May sees the new MOT come into force, with vehicle defects being placed in one of three categories; dangerous, major or minor.

Dangerous means ‘do not drive until the vehicle is repaired’. Major means ‘repair it immediately’. Minor means ‘repair as soon as possible’.

Whats more dangerous?.jpg

When I look at our driver profiling system, it feels to me that the MOT is starting to mirror the way we have always categorised drivers. We put them into one of three categories too; high, medium or low risk.

Reading about the new MOT it struck me, not for the first time, how inadequately road safety is being tackled, with the Government targeting only part of the problem.

Of course, there’s no dispute that vehicles must be safe and in a roadworthy condition. Yet very few collisions, injuries or deaths on our roads are as a result of a faulty vehicle.

99% are caused by drivers, yet while we place our vehicles through an MOT, drivers remain untested.

Its ironic when you consider that vocational drivers, such as HGV and PCV drivers, must do 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to be deemed safe enough to continue on our roads, yet everyone else can carry on with no further learning or checks since tearing up their L-plates, and probably having never looked at a Highway Code since.

But what’s the solution? Perhaps at the time of the MOT, any named drivers on the vehicle’s insurance policy also need to take a short online test too.

I’m not suggesting that if they come out high or medium risk they’re not allowed to drive, as this has to be practical and manageable. But couldn’t that trigger a series of online driver training modules and if either the profiling, or modules, or both, are not completed, it causes a rise in the driver’s insurance?

Not only would this encourage drivers to learn safe driving techniques, it would also penalise those not prepared to. It would also place firmly on the agenda the fact that continuous training and learning, post L-test, is essential.

Sadly, while I feel something is needed, I’m not going to hold my hopes up that the Government will do anything soon. But in the meantime, the good news is that an increasing number of companies are putting their at-work drivers through profiling, followed by either e-learning or on road training, depending on drivers’ risk levels.

As a result, we are seeing many organisations enjoy a reduction in the levels of accidents and an improved attitude by drivers to the importance of safe driving.