Many businesses use heavy goods vehicles (HGV) to transport their goods around the UK. But how many of those companies are effectively implementing measures that need to be taken to ensure high levels of safety across the board?
HGVs have much stricter standards in place than any other type of commercial vehicles, so as a fleet manager, you need to be aware of how to correctly manage and strive to reduce any risks.
If risks aren’t managed correctly, employers can receive fines of up to £20,000 for breaching regulations. To make matters worse, imprisonment and unlimited fines are possible too if a case reach higher courts.
It may come as no surprise that HGVs are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than any other vehicle.
Looking at some stats provided from HSE, we can see over the last five years, nearly 60 employees were killed and 5,000 seriously injured in haulage and distribution alone.
It’s crucial that fleet managers continually work to reduce road safety risks to the HGV drivers and other drivers on the road.
So, what are the necessary steps you need to take to ensure your fleet is managing safety correctly? – And, how does this affect HGV fleet insurance?
Keep reading and you will discover how you can manage your HGV fleets risks more effectively.
Reducing Risks Amongst Drivers
Due to the nature of the job, HGV drivers are more prone to a variety of health issues. The long hours and working away from home can be very tolling on some drivers, not to mention the lack of sleep and physiological problems.
Sitting down for over 8 hours a day isn’t good for anyone. Throw potentially high-stress environments into the mix and you have the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Doesn’t sound too promising, does it?
But, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Luckily, the DVLA has a set of medical standards that need to be met in order for a person to be fit enough to drive.
As you would expect, the medical standards for HGV drivers are much higher than regular drivers. This is, of course, is due to the size of the vehicles and the amount of time employees are required to spend driving.
Not only are the medical standards for HGV operation much higher but Group 2 licence holders are also required to pass a medical exam before they drive large vehicles such as lorries or buses.
So, as a fleet manager, what can you do to increase driver safety?
- One of the first things to do would be to check that all your drivers meet necessary medical standards to operate a HGV, along with having the correct licences.
- Fleet managers can also manage risk by paying attention to the health and wellbeing of employees; a process that is now carried out in many businesses.
- Finally, you should regularly check your HGV compliance strategy to ensure you are fully compliant with regulations.
So far, we have looked at the potential risks HGV drivers are susceptible to and ways of managing them. Now, let’s look at how driving behaviour can be managed to ensure full compliance with the law.
One of the first ways this is achieved is through a device called a tachograph.
If you aren’t familiar with a tachograph, it is a device that is fitted to a vehicle to record its speed and distance. It can also be used to measure driving time, which can be helpful for employers to follow the rules of drivers’ hours.
A tachograph is a legal requirement for HGV drivers and the data accumulated can be very useful to monitor and manage your driver’s behaviour.
The tachograph is essential for fleet managers to comply with HGV regulations such as driving hours.
In the EU, HGV drivers can only work for up to 9 hours a day, 56 hours a week and 90 hours a fortnight. Thanks to these regulations, drivers can minimise the risk of fatigue.
So, if you are a HGV fleet manager, ensure your drivers aren’t working over the required hours and utilise the data of the vehicles tachograph.
As well as tachograph data, managers can also educate drivers on traffic laws and responsible driving through different forms of training.
Reducing Vehicle Risks
Assessing A Vehicle
Not only is it crucial to manage the risks of your drivers but it’s also critical to assess your vehicles.
HGVs come with a wide array of potential hazards that employees and other drivers can be exposed to.
These include blind spots and restricted vision due to the size of vehicles. For this reason, behaviours such as tailgating or overtaking can sometimes go unseen by a HGV driver.
Along with vision restrictions, HGV drivers may find it very difficult to avoid collisions due to increased stopping distances.
During high winds, HGVs are especially vulnerable to turning over or losing control.
So, we’ve established that HGVs themselves come with plenty of risk factors. But, what can you do about them?
Well, the DVSA require HGV drivers or operators to implement daily checks into their routine before they drive one of their vehicles.
As mentioned above, driver training can also reduce the risks by educating drivers on managing their vehicles safely.
Many fleet managers will provide their HGV drivers with safety checklists to ensure that their vehicles are fully compliant with regulations.
Once you have correctly assessed your drivers and your vehicles, you can now look at any measures you can take to reduce risks even further.
Luckily for HGV drivers, electronic stability control (ESC) was required for HGVs in the EU from September 2014. The purpose of this technology is to detect and then reduce any loss of control, this is to ensure the vehicle is stable and the driver is safe.
Along with ESC, Lane Departure Warning System and Advanced Emergency braking also have become mandatory for HGVs. The goal of these kinds of technologies is to reduce the risk of accident for the HGV and other drivers on the road.
This just goes to show that you can expect the newer HGV models to be safer to drive based on the newer technology provided.
How to reduce the cost of HGV fleet insurance
You may now be thinking ‘this is all useful information, but will it affect my insurance premium?’.
Spending the time and money to ensure drivers are safe may seem like an expense to some people but in reality, it is an investment.
A well-designed risk-management programme will benefit your business just as much as it will benefit your drivers and other road users.
Safer driving will naturally lead to fewer accidents, resulting in lower insurance premiums and reduced uninsured damage.
While Brexit, inflation and insurance premium tax can contribute towards higher premiums, there are a number of ways that you can reduce your fleet insurance costs too.
Here are some ways you can reduce the level of risk that is associated with your policy:
- Install vehicles trackers and security devices on all of your vehicles
- Install security e.g. CCTV, to oversee your vehicles
- Name every driver instead of an any driver policy
- Install dash cams on your vehicles
- Reduce your levels of liability
- Renew your fleet policy early
- Invest in driver training
- Use an insurance broker
If you are interested in learning more about HGV fleet insurance, we have written a full guide breaking everything down for you here.
At Fleetcover, we work with the UK’s largest Insurance providers for fleets to get you a professional, hassle-free policy proposal.
We have access to a carefully selected panel of over 20 different insurers, meaning we can provide you with a competitively priced, comprehensive HGV insurance policy.
If you would like more information regarding a HGV fleet insurance quote, contact us today and receive guidance from one of our trusted advisors.