Are employers doing enough to curb the rise in speeding offences?
The first ever car to receive a speeding ticket, an 1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage, went on display at the upmarket motor show at Hampton Court Palace in September.
The driver, Walter Arnold from East Peckham in London, was caught doing 8mph and stopped by a police officer following him on a bicycle. He was fined a shilling plus costs for driving at four times the legal speed limit at the time, in what was believed to be the world’s first speeding conviction.
Since that conviction 119 years ago speeding motorists have become a growing issue on Britain’s roads. Speeding offences have increased by 44% over the past five years according to roadside assistance provider Green Flag, with 244 people killed during 2015 by drivers breaking the speed limit.
The ten highest earning speed camera locations in the UK are reported to make over £3 million per year. The most profitable camera on the A1 Northbound at Great Ponton in Lincolnshire collected £606,400 in 2015, equivalent to £1,661 per day.
When it comes to motorway driving RAC research shows that 81% of company car drivers admitted to regularly exceeding the 70mph limit, compared to 69% of private motorists.
So, it will come as no surprise to many of us that company car drivers are among the worst offenders for flouting motorway speed limits. If you ask them why they speed, the most common excuse is likely to be lateness caused by congested roads and tight work schedules.
The tougher speeding penalties for drivers in England and Wales introduced on 24th April this year should go some way to deterring drivers who excessively speed above legal limits. However, relying on measures like this from local authorities and road operators is not the only way to change driver behaviour for the better.
Employers also have an important role to play in reducing the risks involved in their staff’s use of the road when driving company cars, rental vehicles or their own private vehicles for business purposes.
Promoting safer driving to staff as part of a wider risk management programme not only reduces the likelihood of accidents, it also provides substantial savings for businesses. This includes improved fuel efficiency, reduced vehicle maintenance and repair costs, lower insurance premiums, less vehicle downtime and less time spent by management having to deal with the consequences.
Start by outlining what you expect from staff in your company’s health and safety policy, including a section on speeding and safer driving. Assess the driving attitudes and competence of staff to identify high risk drivers and ensure work targets and practices are not encouraging staff to exceed speed limits.
Provide driver education and practical training based on the needs identified during driver assessments, targeting the high-risk drivers first. This should include the benefits of safer driving as well as the consequences involved in the event of speeding prosecutions and accidents.
Record and investigate work related crashes and damage-only incidents to determine whether inappropriate speed was a contributory factor. If necessary, take action to prevent it from happening again.
Conduct regular driving licence checks to monitor prosecutions and penalties associated with unsafe driving and always inform your insurer of any changes. Review any trends in speeding penalties to identify where action may be needed to improve safety.
Consider the use of technology such as speed limiters, intelligent speed adaption (ISA) systems and in-vehicle telematics to improve driving behaviour and identify high risk employees that regularly exceed speed limits.
Implementing and maintaining a successful risk management programme for your business drivers should not just be the sole responsibility of the fleet manager. It must be driven from the top of an organisation at board level, as well as being actively supported by all levels of management.