Safeguarding Drivers With Advanced Fleet Safety Technology

Posted: 13 Dec, 2023.

We recently held a webinar in collaboration with SureCam, on the topic “From Aggression to Assurance: Safeguarding Drivers with Advanced Fleet Safety Technology,”. In this webinar, industry experts discussed the evolving challenges faced by fleet operators, cultural shifts in the industry and the innovative solutions that technology offers.

Key Panellists:

  • Lee Jackson: Board of Directors at the Association of Fleet Professionals.
  • Philip Read: Head of Safety, Health, Risk, and Resilience at G4S.
  • Sam Footer: Director of Partnerships at SureCam.
  • Mark Ryder: Chief Commercial Officer at Peoplesafe.

Challenges Faced by Fleet Operators

The discussion began with Philip Read, highlighting the unique safety challenges faced by drivers, particularly for those working alone or in dangerous locations. He explained that in some locations, drivers may experience violent incidents, including knives and machetes, while in other areas, threats from patients’ family members are common.

Lee Jackson agreed that these threats are seen all across the industry and shared insights into opportunistic threats, such as the theft of expensive machinery and equipment, emphasising the need for solutions to manage, deter, and protect individuals in these scenarios.

These sentiments were echoed by Mark Ryder, noting that Peoplesafe has seen a general increase in threats and harassment across various fleet sectors. He highlighted the rise in road rage and aggression towards drivers, especially in the post-pandemic era, leading to a rise in personal safety concerns. Mark also shared some examples of the threats seen by Peoplesafe, such as delivery drivers and couriers being targeted for their contents or for the vehicles they are driving.

The discussion then touched on the further rise in incidents during the darker months with shorter days and inclement weather. Mark added that this rise is not solely attributed to aggression but can also be linked to safety concerns surrounding weather conditions, such as a rise in slips, trips, and falls.

Technology Solutions and Innovations

The panellists discussed the adoption of advanced technology solutions to enhance fleet safety. Sam Footer mentioned the increasing demand for employee safety technology in various industries and discussed examples of different applications based on specific fleet needs, such as satellite technology for those operating in remote locations. The conversation emphasised the importance of providing effective support for lone workers while taking into consideration time, practicality and cost-effectiveness.

Integration of Peoplesafe’s lone worker application with SureCam’s dashcam systems was a key topic, with speakers explaining how this integration provides real-time support in the event of incidents, offering a comprehensive solution that includes video evidence and swift emergency response 24/7, 365.

The benefits of this were then discussed, including improved driver safety, rapid deployment of emergency services, and an average police response time of approximately 4 minutes in threat-to-life situations. The versatility of these benefits extends to supporting medical emergencies and personal safety incidents when drivers exit their vehicles. Additionally, dashcams were recognised as effective deterrents, impacting incident prevention as their presence gives drivers more confidence, contributing to improved morale.

Alongside technology, Philip emphasised the need for well-communicated policies and procedures, ensuring all staff members are familiar with them. Ongoing training, including during induction and refresher sessions, was highlighted to prepare employees for adverse situations.

Lee further emphasised the importance of a full-circle strategy to mitigate risks at every stage. He drew attention to the significance of comprehensive risk assessments, followed by proactive mitigation plans and visible deterrents like signage around vehicles. Lee also recognised the role of technology in evidence capture and assisting prosecutions.

Cultural and Organisational Shifts

Commenting on organisational shifts, Philip outlined the cultural change project he has initiated at G4S to tackle the mentality of ‘it’s never going to happen to me’. The company requires all staff members to submit at least one hazard report per month; they conduct behavioural observations through peer reviews; offer online and face-to-face training, and appoint safety champions at each location who provide feedback on operational activities. These measures aim to create a proactive safety culture and involve all staff members in reporting and addressing potential hazards. Philip shared that as a result of this work, 100% of staff members at GS4 now report a hazard every month.

Mark then highlighted the increased focus on employee wellbeing within organisations, particularly post-pandemic. Mark referenced a survey conducted by Peoplesafe, revealing that 22% of people had left their jobs in the last five years due to safety incidents, and one in five employees worry about their safety at least once a week. Stressing the need for organisations to step up and do more to prioritise their people’s safety and wellbeing in the workplace.

Company Car Fleets and Technology Adoption

Following a question from the audience, the discussion touched upon the adoption of telematics and camera technology in commercial fleets versus company car grey fleets. Sam suggested that pushback from staff using company cars often stems from concerns about privacy and return on investment. Lee echoed this sentiment, suggesting that company cars are often seen as an extension of employees’ personal space, making them hesitant to embrace this type of technology.

Philip discussed the potential catalysts for wider adoption, linking it to a broader focus on employee wellbeing, reducing accidents, and supporting insurance claims. The panellists widely agreed that the return on investment and a focus on the wellbeing of all employees could drive the adoption of technology in company car fleets.

Lee added that camera technology could play a crucial role in mitigating risks associated with incidents and providing support or defence for claims. He suggested that those in company cars who have not opted for camera technology may regret not having done so in the event of severe circumstances, which will further encourage their adoption.

Lastly, it was mentioned that historical scepticism about vehicle telematics and concerns over employee tracking have faded and this technology is now widely adopted. So given the current trend, with time, the adoption of technology in company cars is likely to become more widespread.

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