How can the collation of 10 million hours of driving information help you keep your mobile workforce safe? Work related road accidents account for more than 1,000 fatalities each year, making it the single largest cause of occupational fatalities in the UK. It is clear that work needs to be done in relation to occupational road risk and telematics can ensure that businesses do all they can to improve health and safety.

Part of the challenge is that nearly four out of every five of the companies that actually do have policies in place, have no method of formally monitoring employees driving on company business, according to road safety charity BRAKE. Rules are in place but without a way of enforcing them.

Health and safety law applies to on-the-road work activities (as it does to all work activities) and applies to all work related journeys, regardless of whether the vehicle that is being driven is owned by the company, on contract hire from a third-party company or belongs to the employee.

Employer responsibilities apply not just to their employees but to anyone who might be put at risk by work-related driving, which is documented in, “Driving at Work: Managing Work Related Road Safety” published by the Health and Safety Executive.

The guidelines require companies to capture and assess information relating to drivers, vehicles and the journeys. Recording information about the drivers and vehicles is reasonably simple and often only needs to be assessed periodically. For example, annual checks on the penalty points on drivers’ licenses, eye-sight test results and MOT certificates.

Capturing information about journeys and breaks taken is a different matter altogether. This involves records being generated every day and in many cases multiple records for the same day if an employee makes more than one journey. In many cases the sheer volume of records makes assessments difficult if not impossible if undertaken manually. More importantly, any system of records that relies on drivers providing information is inevitably going to invite suspicion and therefore, provide limited value. Realistically, if there is no way for the company or organisation to verify or check the information, self-incriminating data will often be omitted.

Corporate risk management of any size of fleet requires companies to be able to report incidents and manage driver behaviour. This is virtually impossible to do without technology that provides a bird’s eye view of the fleet.

Technology has come a long way, telematics enables vehicle tracking; a way of monitoring the location, movements, status and behaviour of a vehicle or vehicles and things are evolving quickly. Using driver monitoring software, businesses can now see vehicle location, speed, distances driven without a break, cumulative speed, driver style (including harsh acceleration, braking and over revving), road type, time of day, road conditions, weather conditions and so on.

Any type of system that captures information about employee behaviour can raise personal privacy concerns. However, if the introduction of telematics involves the workforce, who can be shown that it enhances driver and other road user safety, while helping to improve the business and service, then it is more likely to be accepted.

The Travis Perkins Group, a leading supplier to the building and construction launched a Driver of the Year award, relying heavily on Masternaut’s telematics systems to monitor each driver against set criteria in order to compare driver performance. The company also has a Safer Roads initiative that uses data provided by the technology to identify drivers that show signs of requiring one-to-one coaching.

Together, the two initiatives led to a significant increase in health and safety awareness and driving best practice across the Travis Perkins Group. Drivers are not only more conscious of how they are performing behind the wheel, they’re motivated and incentivised. When the Driver of the Year award comes around each year there’s a great sense of healthy competition among the whole team.

Technology like Masternaut’s has a major part to play in fostering safe driving. Telematics and tracking is increasingly being adopted by UK businesses. Whether a small business or large corporation, responsible driving must be on the agenda.