Features & Interviews

Resolutions for a safer fleet community in 2024

04 January 2024 #Features & Interviews

By Mark Cartwright, Head of Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention, National Highways

The UK may have a better road safety record than most other nations – but we need to do more to reduce fatalities and injuries on our roads. In 2022 1,711 people lost their lives, a further 28,000 were seriously injured and 104,000 more were hurt in road traffic collisions. That’s half as many people again as can fit in Wembley Stadium (90,000 capacity, if you were wondering).

Those collisions have a devastating impact on lives, families and the economy. Together, we could set resolutions for 2024 to help realise zero harm on our roads. Are you with us? Excellent. Where do we start? With fleet drivers and their vehicles.

Approximately half of the UK’s 40m vehicles are driven for work – including HGVs, vans, buses, company-owned cars and company owned motorbikes (VEH1102). We also know that a substantial proportion of the 30 million privately owned cars are probably used for work – estimates range from 10m to 14m.

People driving for work are involved in one-third of fatalities and one-fifth of all serious injuries. We know that almost 500 fatalities involved a bus, van, or HGV. As the PACTs report, What kills most on the roads states: “Vans have the highest rate of other road user deaths per mile travelled.” And we all know that ‘vehicles’ do not crash – people crash. They just happen to be in a vehicle at the time. Fleet drivers and fleet operations therefore have a huge responsibility to minimise collision risk.

Especially as four of out five of the people killed were not driving for work – they were our elderly, our pedestrians, our children and our cyclists. People with friends and families, who leave an unfillable space in the lives of those who loved them.

So if we can educate fleet operators, and educate drivers, we know that we have the power to save hundreds of lives by making bus, van and HGV fleets safer. Here’s our suggested resolutions for 2024.

  1. Whether you belong to a fleet, a vehicle supplier or a maintenance provider, make a personal commitment to educating colleagues and customers about road safety.
  2. Download the Van Driver Toolkit and read it. Maybe you’ll brush up your own knowledge – and you’ll almost certainly have colleagues or customers who will benefit.
  3. Review your own driving for work policy. Does it put safety first? Does it address the fatal errors of speeding, distraction, fatigue, impairment and not using seatbelts? If not, make a commitment to address this. We’ll be providing simple template policies in the New Year.
  4. Do your managers take responsibility for managing on-road risk, monitor driver behaviour and take action to reduce risk? If not, make this a resolution for 2024, to ensure that your company ensures its duty of care to drivers and the road-using public. Joining Driving for Better Business is a great start, as a Partner or a fleet company.
  5. Look out for our upcoming Car Driver Toolkit, which we’ll provide in 2024.
  6. If you are in a fleet service industry, commit to sharing essential road safety information for fleets with customers, through your customer communications, social media and face-to-face interactions.
  7. Do you require fleet safety commitments from your suppliers? Why not build a commitment to road safety into procurement contracts? Be a demanding buyer- accept nothing less than safety first.

Driving for Better Business is available with tonnes of no-cost resources which can help you to support your client companies in managing their road risk. By improving the safety of the UK’s fleet vehicles, we can cascade knowledge from our newly professionalised drivers through their families and friends. We can address the vehicles which do the highest mileages. We can educate a significant proportion of the driving public through their employers.

Together we can #drivechange. Together we can make fleet safety a reality. Together we can #drivechange. Together we can make zero harm fleet operations a reality. No-one would think a single death in the workplace is acceptable – and neither should we accept deaths on the road. We must create a culture to protect everyone – people like you and me, like our children, our friends and our neighbours.

So that is our final suggestion for a New Year resolution. Make road safety personal, because every road death is personal. It involves a real individual, with a family and loved ones.

I’d like to wish you a very Happy New Year and, more than that, I’d like to wish all road users in 2024 a safe year.

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