HOW much thought goes into managing risk around your organisation’s data protection and privacy? How many hours do your employees put in? The answer to this is probably ‘quite a lot.’
A recent study by LeasePlan UK found that as many as one in three fleet managers don’t have a company vehicle policy in place, despite knowing that it’s a legal requirement. So, why do such a substantial number of businesses take risks when it comes to compliance and their driver’s safety and wellbeing?
For many businesses, fleets are seen as a convenient way of keeping their people – or goods – moving. For most, fleets are essential to fulfilling company activities, but there’s much more to it.
Fleets carry a huge range of risks and costs to businesses, all of which can be minimised. They could even be eliminated with careful planning. What’s more, not only does mitigating risk protect against negative consequences, but there can be significant benefits for the most proactive businesses.
LeasePlan Commercial Director Chris Black said: ” It all starts with a shift in mindset. In many cases, people using fleet vehicles aren’t thought of as professional drivers. Some van fleets might handle deliveries, of course, but many more are used by builders, plumbers, electricians – anyone who needs storage space to transport the tools of their trade.
“This is even more common in car fleets, where employees drive to meetings, appointments or wherever they need to go to do their job. The driving itself isn’t the job, but if someone is using a company vehicle, they should be considered a professional driver.”
What are the costs of not addressing fleet risks?
There’s a perception in some companies that anything to do with a vehicle is the responsibility of the driver. They’re left to manage the issue when something goes wrong, but responsibility rests with managers and the organisation itself, which can be held liable for mistakes.
The most obvious risk is that of accidents or breakdowns, and subsequent damage to fleet vehicles, which ranges from small dents to full write-offs. Damage is a direct cost to the organisation and usually results in higher insurance premiums. And, as manufacturers continue to incorporate more technology into vehicles, cars and vans are becoming more expensive to repair – a trend that is very likely to continue.
Then there’s the more intangible cost of downtime. If there are unusable vehicles parked up in the yard or car park, fleets won’t be able to operate at their usual capacity. Or perhaps the business will have to absorb additional costs to source replacements. Similarly, if drivers experience any minor injuries during accidents, for example whiplash, they may need weeks off work to recover. In more serious cases of injury, they may need to take regular absences over several years.
In the worst cases, a serious injury or fatality would not only be a tragedy for all parties involved, but it could also create significant legal challenges. This starts with the time and expense of investigating a case before any charges are even brought, as well as the cost of going to court, and potential fines as a consequence of poor management.
Black said: “A badly run fleet is a bad label to have. No organisation wants to be known as the company that doesn’t care about how their employees drive, whether it’s that they don’t park safely, frequently jump red lights, or simply don’t get where they need to be on time because of regular breakdowns.”
Why is mitigating risk so important?
Every organisation is legally required to look after its employees and the general public, and that includes managing risk to reduce the number and severity of incidents. In turn, mitigating those risks has a knock-on impact, reducing everything from repair costs to vehicle and personal downtime.
Some risk reduction techniques, like introducing telematics improve safety and enable managers to optimise fleet performance. Covering everything from changing driving styles to improving fuel economy, they enable fleets to do more while spending less. In fact, risk plans can allow greater flexibility and therefore better responses to current challenges and future opportunities.
Black said: “The pandemic, for example, saw the workload of delivery firms rise dramatically. Those with good risk plans in place were able to bring new people on board, help them understand what was expected of them, and get trained for the job far more quickly.
“Our study found that reducing fleet risk was third in a list of priorities that businesses have for their fleets in 2021, behind reducing cost and becoming more sustainable. But in reality, managing fleet risk has the potential to impact both these first two aims if it’s done well.
“Managing an issue after it happens really isn’t the best approach – it’s time consuming, expensive, and could be detrimental to an organisation’s reputation. So, do the right thing by your employees and your organisation. Be proactive now and mitigate potential risks before they become a problem.”