Focus On Road Risk Part 1

We all know statistics tell us that a quarter of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who is driving for work. Whatever driving for work actually means.

When you trawl through driver training websites you are met with a deluge of the doom and gloom of what awaits you if you fail to discharge your obligations under the road traffic acts, health and safety and of course the corporate manslaughter act and so on.

Now, don't misunderstand me. Legislation which sets out obligations and provides a framework for safe practices at work are important.  However, the reality is that statistically you, or one of your at work drivers, are unlikely to be involved in a fatal or life changing road traffic incident. This is evidenced by the millions of miles driven each year divided by the number of killed and seriously (KSI) injured on our roads.

Also, I recently read in one of the trade magazines an article about health and safety compliance within the context of fleet driver training. I think that the general thread was that if one of your drivers was involved in a KSI road incident, the health and safety executive were unlikely to investigate unless it involved hazardous substances, loading and unloading by refuse collectors and other fairly narrow terms of reference. (Driving Instructor Issue Five 2015 p.32 H & S Compliance Richard Hampson)

So, if as a company, you are not likely to have one of your drivers involved in a KSI road incident and, even if you were, it is unlikely to be investigated by the health and safety executive, the obvious conclusion is why bother with any form of driver training?

The argument for accepting the risk of not being involved in a KSI/taking no action to manage risk v the financial investment in driver training, of whatever form the latter takes, goes on. For example, it is well known that when drivers are being watched during training, they tend to perform to the expected standards of the trainer. This is the Hawthorne effect. Accepting that there will inevitably be the odd exception to this rule, it is not rocket science for drivers to understand game rules and comply. However, what will stop them reverting back to type after they have received their training? The same concerns surround learner drivers who, after passing their driving test, revert to the style of driving which reflects their beliefs, experiences of significant others such as mum, dad, siblings, peers and so on. The Hawthorne effect is now fed by peers, significant others, films, driving games and not a sound basis of on road risk assessment.  

Post training, the greatest influence up on how drivers 'express themselves' in the driving seat is their own self belief in being a well above average amongst a sea of lesser drivers.

So why do companies within the UK still invest in driver training? These companies range from small business up to multi million pound national and international organisations. What do they know that you don't know?

Part 2 next week may provide enlightenment.