Statistics Soar for HGV Crashes: Safety Strategies under the Spotlight
With changes to speed limits and regulations for HGVs, despite statistics revealing that HGVs are involved in one in five fatal crashes on A-roads, safety within the fleet environment is more paramount than ever. In the latest Brake blog, Megan Stealey from How's My Driving? looks at what strategies and technologies fleet companies could use to improve road safety.
In 2013, 6,092 HGV crashes took place in England and Wales, that's nearly 17 a day, even though HGVs only make up approximately 10% of all traffic. HGVs are involved in one in five fatal crashes on A-roads, as well as being five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash on a minor road than other vehicles. With those statistics in mind it is a wonder why only one in five HGV operators surveyed by Brake had rear-facing cameras on all of their fleet vehicles.
With the speed limit for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes rising, fuel costs rising, maintenance costs rising, and the cost of safety strategies rising, the question remains; not only are we doing enough to reduce road safety risk and ensure safer HGV vehicles but are the strategies currently available for HGVs affordable and realistic? Let's take a look at some of the industries well-known safety technologies that are available today.
Strategies under the Spotlight
Although video cameras, also known as 'dash-cams' are ideal for capturing incidents on film for insurance purposes, they aren't necessarily designed to detect other road users. Therefore, it isn't a road safety preventative measure, but an assurance for the driver. If your organisation runs a large fleet, 'dash-cams' may not necessarily be the answer you are looking for. In a bid to reduce fleet bills, many larger organisations install 'dash-cams' in their HGVS. However, many fleet managers underestimate the operational burden that this video camera can give. Hours of footage may need to be viewed and if you do not have a specific person for the job, it may be overlooked. Therefore, 'dash-cams' are a useful tool in aiding quick and efficient delegation of liability, although they do not actually making the HGV vehicle safer.
GPS tracking can be extremely useful tool in managing your occupational road risk (MORR), if you can find a software provider that uses an internet log in portal, this can be accessed from any internet-enabled device, making the tool practical for those organisations with a number of depots requiring multiple logons. Real-time tracking can aid instant management decisions, as well as alerting the customer when the delivery is nearby. Not to mention the fuel saving potential, the GPS tracking software can identify the shortest route (especially if they are linked to Google maps) using as little fuel as possible and will enable fleet managers to forecast accurate budgets.
Badge safety scheme
Although this scheme may not necessarily seem like the most technological way to make HGV's safer and more efficient, many organisations who offer this service promise an improvement in driver behaviour and an improved public image. How's My Driving? is one of the only not for profit road safety schemes in the UK to offer real-time reports and 24/7 UK based call centres. The online system allows client companies to manage their occupational road risk, by providing real time management information reports about the comments/feedback made by the public about their fleet vehicles, which they can access via an online login portal at any time.
From the information recorded by the 'dash cams' and the feedback reported by the badge safety scheme, you should have a sound basis for any CPD courses/training days you wish to provide for your staff. These safety technologies should point out any consistent errors your drivers are making, this can avoid blame and confrontation by providing CPD niche training to all drivers.
In order to manage your occupational road risk (MORR) it is important to implement HGV safety strategies that you think will work for you and your budget. It is unrealistic to use all of the strategies mentioned. However, we must always remember than even with all the measures, both legal and optional – HGV drivers are only human and there is only so much a HGV driver can see at any one time. Therefore, crashes will always occur, it is about how to minimise the risk of this happening.
My uncle was killed last year by an HGV driver who failed to check his mirrors before pulling away. These vehicles have a Class 6 mirror positioned above the windscreen in order to see in front of the vehicle. It is useless having this mirror if firstly it is not kept clean and secondly if the driver doesn't check it. In our case the mirror was dirty and there was suspicion that it hadn't been looked in at all. The driver was charged with death by careless driving but was acquitted following his defence having the dirty mirror evidence excluded from the case on the basis that it must have got dirty in transit from the scene of the incident to the police pound. If we are to make any progress in these cases it is imperative that drivers go back to basics and re-learn about the importance of all the mirrors on their vehicles and when these should be used.