The law is changing and the implications for directors of a business when something goes wrong are getting harder to ignore. The question of whether an employer did everything that could have been done, or everything that a prudent employer would have done, or should have done is a matter of semantics. As an industry, we have to make sure we are looking after our people.

When the mechanics of the ORS were first understood, there was a bit of an outcry that an employer was being penalised for the actions of a speeding driver that he knew nothing about and was therefore powerless to prevent. With more than 75% of fleets now equipped with GPS this argument is wearing a little thin.

Like it or not, the consequences for continuing to ignore these behaviours in your fleet are coming with increasingly harsh penalties – both financial and jail time.

So what can you do about it? No one comes to work to do a bad job and a good safety attitude starts at the top – you set the standard for how your staff perceive the importance of working within the rules.

Through our work with fleets in this area, we have seen some amazing results.

  • A fleet who had been paying lip service for some time to the “we don’t speed” message decided that it was time they actively managed this. Within one month their results were astounding. From thousands of overspeed events per day to a mere handful, personal phone calls to the drivers made them aware of their actions – confirming that there was enough time to do the job safely and the driver was part of a team, not the only one responsible for on time deliveries. A general sense of relief was palpable as the drivers’ stress levels reduced, knowing they had the support of their boss to drive safely.
  • In another fleet, we had a driver apply for a job who had a terrible reputation – drink, drugs, log book offences, speeding, attendance issues, you name it, his reputation covered it. The driver shortage being what it is, this company took a punt and brought him on. Some strict guidelines and managing him closely to ensure he understood that he was accountable for portraying his company in a good light to the customer, allowing the fleet to retain the contract, and the driver to keep his much needed job… all combined to propel this driver to the top of the driver league table in this fleet.

A journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step. Just because you have never looked at this stuff before, doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve those results that you read about – 5%+ savings in fuel, reduced speeding tickets, climbing ORS, falling insurance premiums – the possibility to save $1,000s is within your grasp.

It is a long term commitment. This isn’t something that you can blitz for 6 weeks or 6 months then move on. To coin a phrase, “safety is everyone’s responsibility” but it starts at the top.

We have seen a customer who was making good inroads, get distracted by a new contract. The paperwork and relationship building distracted them from the time which had previously been spent encouraging and recognising drivers for doing the right thing. Tempers throughout the fleet have frayed, perceived pressure is rising, and so are their top speeds. It isn’t long now until another big bill comes their way. The savings that have been made in the past will help to offset the cost of this, but nothing pays back the sleepless nights and the mountains of paperwork that are sure to follow.

Make the commitment to do the right thing, use the tools available to you to monitor whether your fleet is upholding your standards as they go about your business. It might cost you a bit of money and a bit of time to get it underway, and to stay on top of it, but it will cost you a whole lot more of both money and time if you don’t.

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