We have all witnessed bad driving in our time. Sheer recklessness, a lack of attention, use of phones, slamming on brakes, swerving between lanes, tailgating, road range, and any number of other road-based dangerous behaviour.
As you will know, it is not just private drivers behind the wheels of their own cars that are the problem… company drivers in charge of fleet vehicles are just as guilty of this type of driving, or even more so due to the fact that the vehicle does not belong to them.
These vehicles which sport your company’s livery and all its contact information don’t leave a great impression when they are being recklessly piloted around Britain’s roads. This and a whole host of other considerations can have a huge impact on your company and hit it hard in the pockets.
Bad driving is bad for business and in this guide, we are going to look at the many ways it can harm your business and how you can prevent it, such as through the use of driver management software.
It is easy to look at somebody on the road and think of them as a bad driver, but is this really the case? According to the Highway Code, there are three ‘official’ types of driving that constitute “bad driving”.
Inconsiderate driving is defined as behaviour that could be considered as “rude” or “obnoxious”.
Examples of inconsiderate driving include using full beam headlights when it’s not necessary, using a bus lane to skip a queue of traffic, flashing at other vehicles so that they move out of the way, and unjust use of the horn.
Careless driving is where a driver behaves unreasonably or without due care and attention.
The classic examples of careless driving are tailgating—not leaving enough space between vehicles—and driving through a red light by mistake or accidentally driving up the wrong side of a one-way street.
As you may expect, dangerous driving is where a road user creates a potentially dangerous or hazardous situation by way of his or her driving. This is when a driver falls “far below” the standard of driving that the law expects.
Speeding, aggressive driving, drink and drug driving, driving an unsafe vehicle (e.g. bald tyres), road rage, and use of a mobile phone all fall under the umbrella of dangerous driving.
There are several different ways that bad driving can harm your business.
From the immediate costs of putting things right to the long-term cost of lost customers, it is vitally important that business operators keep their drivers in check by using driver management software or another means of holding drivers to account.
In a survey of 1,000 UK consumers, TomTom found that most people are put off a business if they witness bad driving. This means that if a potential customer witnesses one of your fleet drivers recklessly, carelessly, or dangerously operating one of your vehicles on the road, they are unlikely to be a potential customer for long.
Think about it—have you ever witnessed a marked fleet vehicle being driven dangerously on the road? Probably. How did you feel when you saw this? Not great, more than likely.
In the age of technology and social media where everybody is recording everything and there is a huge herd mentality, you really cannot afford the habits of bad drivers to cause long-term harm to your business. The last thing you want is your business to go ‘viral’ on social media for all the wrong reasons.
If one of your drivers is constantly putting their foot down, braking harshly, and revving the engine, amongst other things, they will be burning through a lot more fuel than they would if driving properly.
Driving at speed burns more fuel, too. Research by What Car? found that driving at 80mph uses up to 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph. Not to mention that driving at 80mph is illegal, too. Why should you be paying for a driver that is constantly driving at speed?
Given that fuel can make up as much as 40% of your fleet’s running costs, getting speed under control can lead to huge savings.
Insurers don’t like it when drivers take risks and cause accidents. If you are making a lot of claims under your fleet’s insurance policy due to bad driving, it will cost you a lot more money when it comes to renewal.
Bad driving means a higher risk of accidents, and a higher risk of accidents means that they occur more often, resulting in your business being out of pocket for maintenance and repair work. This also means that your vehicles spend less time on the road making your business money.
It’s not just accidents that cost your business money, though. Bad driving puts more strain on the vehicle and speeds up the usual wear and tear of your fleet vehicles.
Above all else, businesses should be looking to banish bad driving due to the safety considerations alone. In the unfortunate event that one of your drivers ends up in an accident that they caused, you could not only be faced with a vehicle that is out of action but a member of staff, too.
There are many ways that you can solve a bad driving problem. By doing so, your business’s reputation will be protected, and you could save a whole lot of money.
Driver management software and telematics are powerful tools that can be deployed into any fleet. Powerful driver management software gives fleet managers a top-down view of driver activity and holds them to account for their actions.
Driver management software and telematics track fleer vehicles in real time. This lets you identify problem drivers and their bad habits so that you can address them before they manifest into costly problems.
A good telematics system used in conjunction with driver management software allows you to see data such as harsh acceleration and harsh braking, average speed, revving, and excess idling, amongst other things. Over time, these telematics and driver management software systems create a clear picture of your fleet and where money could be saved.
Some telematics and driver management software systems can also ‘coach’ drivers in real time. For example, a flashing LED could be used to alert drivers when they are speeding or brake too harshly.
Although driver management software is great, it cannot be relied on solely to put a stop to problem driving.
By providing initial and ongoing training to your fleet drivers, you make them aware of and train them to a set standard that they are expected to follow. This shortens the learning curve and leaves less room for mistakes and ignorance.
Given the costs of bad driving and the fact that it is the cause of more work-related accidents than anything else, money invested in training is a worthy expense.
There is no harm in making your drivers aware of fuel efficiency, especially if you are going to great lengths already to solve a persistent problem of bad driving.
Good fuel economy can cut your maintenance costs by up to 33%, and that’s not to mention the direct costs of saving money by using less fuel. Fuel-efficient driving isn’t difficult, either. Some of the ways that drivers can use less fuel include:
Driving at a consistent speed
Be proactive and look ahead at the road so as to avoid sudden manoeuvres
Use the highest possible gear at the lowest possible speed
Turn off an idling engine (this is a major problem during winter!)
The best way to stamp out a problem of ‘bad driving’ is to use driver management software and telematics to home in on your fleet.
These are systems used by businesses both large and small all over the world so that they can keep an eye on their drivers, learn about their behaviour, and identify potential problems before they manifest into serious issues and accidents.