Focus on Accident Reduction
I happened to watch ‘Undercover Boss’ on C4 last night where the CEO of waste management company Biffa went ‘back’ to the coal-face to try and root out and eliminate difficulties the company is / was experiencing. A positive PR exercise overall, but some of the driving of a food waste collection vehicle was hair-raising to say the least. This got me thinking about traffic accidents; not least as I was slightly surprised there were none resulting from the CEO’s day out with Mark the driver. This combined with a particularly bad looking accident I saw on the A43 on Sunday lunchtime was sobering. A timely reminder of the need to balance safety with the continual drive to complete every route more quickly, more efficiently and at lower cost. There was significant media comment on the 2011 statistics, showing the first increase in fatalities as a result of motor vehicle accidents since 2003. Thankfully, and somewhat more sparingly reported (as is the way with the media and good news), was the decrease in fatalities from 1,901 in 2011 to 1,754 in 2012.
Clearly, one death is too many; and there are still concerning trends and actions for the industry to make the roads as safe a place as possible. Since 1926, the numbers of fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents has largely gone one way as can be seen from the graph below. Improving the safety of vehicles, signage, driving skill and preventative campaigns have been successful in countering the increase in traffic on the roads, and the increased speeds modern vehicles can travel at.
As you can see from the Department for Transport (DFT) graph below there is a downward trend of all accidents by severity since 2000. There has been some comment in the past that the government’s statistics under-report incident and injury (certainly the less serious ones) on the roads; however, it is largely accepted that the number and severity of incidents is on a downward trajectory.
Set against a trend of reduction in incidents involving bus and goods vehicle operators since 2000, there has been a slight rise in fatalities since 2009 indexed to the 2005-9 average. A keen road safety focus is essential for any LGV driver and the Driver CPC requirements will hopefully see a continuation of the overall improvement in the statistics.
The most concerning trend in the 2012 data was the increase in pedal cyclist deaths, a rise of 10%. It is always difficult to deduce any real trends year to year, however, the road haulage industry has embarked on several high profile campaigns in order to highlight the issue, raise awareness and improve driving standards. There has been, and will no doubt continue to be increases in the numbers of cyclists on the roads; so a continuing focus on this is essential given the current popularity of this mode of transport, fuelled by Olympic and Tour-de-France success.
For commercial vehicle operators a combination of awareness, training, safety focus, technology and improvements in the road network will hopefully continue to lead to reductions in the numbers of incidents and the severity of those. It is essential that all operators’ paramount consideration is always safety. The pressure on drivers to meet ever leaner delivery schedules must always be balanced with a realistic approach to the road conditions that they must work in and the safety of all road users.