Company vehicles - weapons of zero destruction?

From the outset, let's agree that vehicles (cars, trucks, bikes) are far better than bicycles and horse-and-cart when it comes to workplace usage.  Without them, sales teams would only be calling on a handful of customers a week, and many deliveries wouldn't be possible.  And where would we keep our horses?

However for those of you who have seen the one-sided outcome of a battle between a car and a human, you know just how lethal they can be.  Whilst driver safety has been on the radar both both authorities and organisations for many years, the grim reality is that millions of people every year around the world do not get back home to their loved ones after a trip in a vehicle.

An unfortunate trade-off

I remember a conversation I had many years ago with road safety expert John Wall of the Roads and Transport Authority in New South Wales.  We were chatting about road toll statistics and he mentioned that at speeds under 40 km/h, there are very few deaths.  However this is simply not a practical solution for the general public.  Protests would replace the cars on the streets!

It's all about the driver

Whilst car manufacturers are doing what they can to make cars safer, it is the driver that has the biggest influence over vehicle accidents.  It is not just the obvious distractions like texting and driving whilst tired, a busy mind is just as distracting (personal issues, work issues, day-dreaming).  When driving, attention and awareness and being aware of the surrounding environment is incredibly important.

'It wouldn't happen to me, only poor drivers have accidents'.

This is the attitude of many drivers, but of course it is not always about driving ability. Research from the Monash University Accident Research Centre shows that a surprisingly high number of motorists at all speed levels did not believe it to be dangerous to travel 30km/h above the posted speed limits. In fact in an ironic twist, improving driving skills sometimes leads to riskier driving behaviour, and therefore more accidents!  What this means is that it less about skills, and more about attitude.

Attention and awareness are everything.

Based on research conducted by the Driving Research Group at Cranfield University and DriverMetrics®, there are 5 high risk driver behaviours that create problems for themselves and others:

  1. Driver fatigue - long shifts and not enough sleep.
  2. Speeding - driving too fast is the main contributing factor for work-related crashes.
  3. Time pressure - a combination of personality, motivation and organisational influences increases crash risk.
  4. Distractions - both inside and outside of the vehicle greatly increase the risk of crash involvement. This includes things like thinking about other things.
  5. Mobile Phones - whether it is hand-held or hands-free, the use of mobile phones is a significant risk, period.

When it comes to driving at work...?

I spoke with Stuart Mullins, CEO of Australian road-safety technology company GPSI Group about this very topic.

"People who drive as part of their work, both as part of a daily commute or during the day as part of the job, have pressures coming from many directions.  Sometimes it is easy to let distraction take over.  Technology can really help to keep people focused on what they need to do.  The most productive thing a person can do whilst driving is to concentrate on driving.  There is nothing more unproductive than being involved in an accident".

What are you doing to ensure your company vehicles remain weapons of zero destruction?

Optimum Direct Tip:

If your Company relies on vehicles that are paid for by the Company, the cost of poor driving is significantly higher than conscious driving when everything is added up. One way to overcome this is to implement a program similar to the one that GPSI Group have developed, called Target Zero.  

Check it out for yourself here.


About the author:


Jason Buchanan is the general manager for insights and innovation of Optimum Consulting Group, a trusted and leading HR consultancy firm in Australia. He is the brain behind Optimum Direct, a web portal of the best HR tools and software for small business. He is interested in finding solutions on how companies can continue to grow without destroying the things that are important to them (employees, customers, suppliers, reputation etc). 

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