There’s no such thing as safe speeding

Paul Miller, Product Manager at Fleetmatics, considers the high cost of breaking the speed limit.

Whether you have one worker out in the field or a fleet of a thousand, wondering if they follow the speed limit is something that keeps business owners awake at night. Not only does this stem from a concern for the safety of drivers, but also the many hidden costs that add up significantly for a business. No matter how you look at it speeding is bad for business, but how can you eliminate speeding from your organisation? The answer is through mobile workforce and fleet management technologies.

Research from the Accident Advice Helpline found that three quarters of drivers admit they regularly exceed the speed limit. One of the challenges with addressing speeding is that many drivers have an ill-conceived notion that it is a victimless crime. Almost every plumber or contractor has been in the scenario where they are on a tight deadline or running late for a job, or at the end of a long day and thinks that a few extra miles over the speed limit will help. The fact is, speeding is not a victimless crime. Speeding is one of the main contributing factors in fatal road accidents and Churchill Insurance research has found that a vehicle is written-off in the UK every 90 seconds.

Aside from the obvious safety concerns associated with speeding, one of the things that frustrates business owners is that speeding just doesn’t work. The reality is that most of the theoretical time gained from going those extra miles over the speed limit tend to be lost in traffic or stuck at lights, particularly in urban areas. Not to mention the financial risk and potential loss of earnings for drivers who get caught. New penalties for speeding were introduced in April 2017 and now mean that fines are calculated as a percentage of weekly earnings. It includes higher weighting for offences committed in HGVs and other commercial vehicles. Penalties can be as much as 150% of weekly earnings, so for someone on £25,000 a year, a speeding fine equivalent to 150% of their weekly income means handing over at least £720. On top of that, there are license penalties or disqualifications that come with traffic infringements, which can put drivers out of action and create scheduling headaches for managers.

Speeding also comes with other hidden costs for your business. First there is the impact on fuel efficiency. Every 5mph driven over 65 mph represents a 7% decrease in fuel efficiency, so when multiplied across all of your workers and contractors, a few extra miles per hour can quickly escalate into a significant outlay on fuel. Speeding also accelerates vehicle wear and tear, and increases maintenance costs. It can also be a risk to goods, tools and equipment in transit – with the potential for them to be moved from where they were safely stowed and become damaged as a result of a vehicle’s dramatic movements. Finally, unsafe driving can have a negative impact on an organisation’s reputation. Vehicles out in the field are essentially moving billboards – unsafe driving sends a bad message to the public and creates a negative perception of an organisation that can impact on sales.

Mobile workplace management technologies give plumbing and contracting business managers complete visibility to the location and behaviour of drivers. This includes speeding and other behaviours such as harsh braking, acceleration and much more. It also helps to reduce unauthorised vehicle use and allows managers to respond quickly to emergencies by knowing the precise location of vehicles at any time. The visibility provided by these kinds of technologies helps to manage individual driver performance, but also enables the creation of a culture of safety and eliminates unsafe driving practices all together. This can be achieved by rewarding safe driving behaviour and establishing leader boards amongst driving teams, to create a bit of friendly competition amongst teams to ensure safe driving practices.

There are other benefits too. It not only ensures driver compliance, but also lowers the risk of accidents, reduces liability and over the longer term, depending on a provider, can cut insurance costs, and improve company perception.

The bottom line is that there is no situation where speeding makes sense for a business. But through the use of telematics technology, unsafe driving practices can be stamped out and at the same time improve a business’ bottom line.


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