Features & Interviews

Five minutes with… Anne-Marie Penny, Senior Road Safety Policy Adviser for National Highways and project leader for Driving for Better Business

03 August 2023 #Features & Interviews

Tell us about your role

I’ve worked in road safety since 2003, over 20 years, having been involved in a life-threatening motorbike crash in 1995. I am passionate about reducing road crash casualties and the physical and mental trauma that results.

I’m now Senior Road Safety Policy Adviser for National Highways and project leader for Driving for Better Business (DfBB).

Through the Driving for Better Business programme, those organisations which collectively employ millions of staff who drive for work have access to a range of free tools and resources, along with examples of good practice and strong leadership.

We are aiming for a world where those who use the roads for work do so safety, efficiently, and sustainably.

What are some of the key ways in which work-related road risk can be managed?

Driving for work is often seen as a consequence of a job – for example a landscape gardening company – rather than a safety-critical aspect of it, yet it is one of the highest risk activities that most employees will ever undertake. Failure to manage that risk doesn’t just put drivers and other road users at risk. It can put directors and senior managers, reputations, even the business itself, at risk.

We have a straightforward 7-step plan that you can find on our website, under the heading ‘Getting Started’ – and that is a key first step in the journey. This helps you understand your priorities and where the gaps are in your company’s driving for work policy.

It’s all free – and you will almost certainly save money for your company, and you’ll have safer, happier drivers.

Have there been any changes in how that risk is managed in recent years?

So many! Remember the days when we focused on seat belt wearing to save lives, or on drink driving? Driving under the influence of drugs is a growing issue, with many organisations now introducing random drug testing. Driver risk management features in many contracts: if you cannot demonstrate this, you don’t get the contract.

The focus has also shifted from HGVs, which are now heavily regulated, to vans. The growth of van use on our roads seems to be unstoppable, but because someone licensed to drive a car can usually drive a van, there’s still a poor understanding of how the law applies – even that different speed limits apply.

Likewise, the model of company car ownership and use has changed over the years, and increasingly, organisations rely on their employees using their own vehicle for work business.

Driving for work is now as much the responsibility of the HR and health and safety teams as it is the fleet or transport manager.

How do you support fleet managers to learn and put these changes into practice?

A major aspect of what we do is to share knowledge and experience. Our 7-step plan (above) is the start point – plus the website has a huge number of case studies so it’s easy to find an organisation like yours and take it from there. You’ll find examples of the kinds of financial savings they have made, but also some of the other benefits, such as less pressurised employees, improved carbon footprint, fewer prosecutions… the list goes on.

To address the gap in knowledge about vans, we’ve introduced the Van Driver Toolkit which is available online and in print – and is supported by a range of Toolbox Talks – videos of about 6-8 minutes long. And, by popular request, we’re also working on a car driver toolkit.

Throughout the year, we host and speak at events round the country to spread the word. We also have several partners and advocates who support us, and for anyone new to risk management, it’s always interesting to hear what other organisations have gone through and their learning along the way.

What is the key message to take away regarding work-related road risk?

Workplace safety law applies to the workplace and that includes anyone driving for work whether that’s in a company vehicle or their own vehicle. Put simply: you cannot put your employees in an unsafe working environment – and this includes out on the road.

Anne-Marie Penny, Senior Road Safety Policy Adviser for National Highways and project leader for Driving for Better Business

Update Newsletter