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The Unexpected Costs of Distracted Driving and What Companies Can Do About It

Driving accidents that happen while working can have severe detrimental effects on a business’ reputation, consequently damaging their bottom line.…

The Unexpected Costs of Distracted Driving and What Companies Can Do About It

20th July 2020

car crash

Driving accidents that happen while working can have severe detrimental effects on a business’ reputation, consequently damaging their bottom line. In fact, even ‘slight’ accidents cost a business an average of around £25,500 in the UK. Find out how to protect your business from such costs by educating your staff and managing risks.

Each year there are more than 125,000 deaths and 50,000,000 injuries on the world’s roads, illustrating the devastating effects that unsafe driving can have. While not all traffic incidents have these awful outcomes, other driving accidents that happen while working can have severe detrimental effects on a business’ reputation, consequently damaging their bottom line. In fact, according to statista.com, ‘slight’ accidents cost a business an average of around £25,500 in the UK. Find out how to protect your business from such costs by educating your staff and managing risks.

 

Why – and what – does distracted driving cost a business?

Companies that have anything from a few company cars to a generous fleet of vans need to be aware of the true cost of poor driving and traffic accidents. There are costs associated with all of the following:

  • Repairs to the company vehicle – this could be minor costs without going through your insurance, or insurance excess costs if damage is more severe.
  • Repairs to 3rd party vehicles – the same as above.
  • Increased insurance rates – with every incident reported, your business vehicle insurance costs are likely to increase.
  • Injuries – if your driver has injured someone due to careless driving, it might be possible that they can make an additional claim – such as if they suffer from whiplash.
  • Downtime – if either your vehicle is damaged, or your driver has suffered an injury, this could lead to downtime from work.
  • Fuel – according to research carried out by DirectLine, reckless drivers who travel at high speeds and break suddenly spend on average 67% more on fuel. So even if there are no accidents, there is still unnecessary cost to the business for driving this way.

There is also the very real threat of the cost of damage to your company’s reputation. When accidents occur, it’s likely that members of the public – whether they are pedestrians or other drivers – will witness the incident. If your driver was obviously distracted or driving recklessly, in a vehicle with your company name and logo on the side, these same members of the public will quickly associate your business with carelessness and even arrogance. This will likely lead to a sense of distrust in your staff, and an unwillingness to do business with you.

Location technology company TomTom carried out research to find out how important good driving was to consumers, and the majority of the 1,000 people they asked said they were put off a business if they saw staff driving badly.

 

Implementing an effective driver safety programme

To avoid traffic incidents and the consequential costs involved with them, company owners and senior staff must put into place an effective driver safety training course. Whether you’ve hired experienced drivers, or new recruits that have not had their driving licence for many years, it’s important to offer regular driving training and refresher courses. This could include:

  • An in-house hazard perception test (videos can be found online)
  • A Q&A style training session during which the rules of the road are tested, including a quiz at the start and/or end of the session
  • Practical driving time with a senior member of staff as a passenger, who will assess the experience and identify potential problems

There are many online driving courses – some chargeable and some free – which can be utilised by a company with drivers. These are designed to provide those who already have a licence with a refresher on everything related to road laws, safe driving habits, road courtesy, speed awareness, hazard perception and car maintenance.

Any driving training provided should be conducted when a new driver first joins the team, and then on an annual basis after that. Managers should also consider requesting that any drivers who do get into accidents, should take the training again after the incident has happened.

 

Promoting a culture of fuel-saving

Another way to cut costs is to educate your drivers about how to drive in a fuel-preserving manner.

Businesses with a substantial fleet are likely to have a fuel card system in place with which their drivers can buy fuel as and when needed. These can be useful if you’d like to dictate where fuel can be purchased from – such as only supermarkets, or only garages with whom your company has a discounted rate. If your company does not use fuel cards it can still be useful to inform your drivers about preferred suppliers, in order to keep fuel costs down.

Educate your staff about the importance of good driving to reduce fuel costs, such as with the following habits:

  • Adhering to speed limits
  • Turning off the engine in traffic (when stationary for 30 seconds or more)
  • Using the highest gear possible for the speed
  • Being aware of what’s ahead to avoid sudden breaking and other manoeuvres

 

Vehicle tracking

Companies with a fleet of vehicles might consider installing a tracking system on them, in order to accurately measure the way the vehicle is being driven. While trackers might not necessarily be welcomed among staff, if you are frequently having issues with incidents they can be a useful tool.

As well as finding a vehicle’s location at any given time, modern trackers can measure speed, detect irrational driving and sudden manoeuvres, and fuel economy. This will allow managers to quickly discover which, if any, drivers are not behaving in a careful way. If preferred, vehicle trackers could be used as a deterrent for poor drivers, i.e. if they are only installed in the vehicles that are regularly found to be involved in incidents.

 

Reducing business costs

While some drivers might continue to drive in a careless or distracted fashion, especially if this has come as a result of years of bad habits, to inform staff about road safety and fuel consumption is one of the most effective ways to combat this.

In addition to providing regular training, managers should find a way to reward good driving and reprimand those who are involved in incidents when they are at fault. Only then will employees appreciate their value to you as a safe driver, and with this will come a shift in their driving behaviour. With informed driving staff who understand the true cost of distracted driving, it should be possible to keep such costs down for your business.

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