Many people have heard of the Pareto principle, which is attributed to an Italian economist (Vilfredo Pareto) around a hundred years ago who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population, and that just 20% of the pea pods growing in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

Commonly quoted examples of the logic of Pareto distribution in the workplace include the assertion that ‘80% of our sales volume comes from just 20% of our customers’ or that around 80% of our time is spent in solving 20% of our problems’.

The principle of Pareto distribution is now more widely known and in the world of driving too, there are good examples. Whilst it is often quoted that business drivers as a group, have a claims frequency much higher than the typical private driver at 60 – 70% (which suggests that the majority of those who drive at work will be involved in a crash). In reality we know that in many cases it is 20% of the drivers who are responsible for 80% of the collisions. Those drivers often being involved in as many as two, three or four incidents each.

This underlines wholeheartedly the logic behind the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Let’s look to identify the risks to take positive action to reduce those risks before death & injury occurs.  In this case it means we need to seek to quickly identify those drivers who are likely to be responsible for the majority of collisions. There must be some reasons why just a few of the drivers act and drive so differently to the vast majority of their colleagues?  If we can pick out those vulnerable drivers early on, and take prompt action, we can change the figures.

The word ‘accident’ is often used to describe the sequences of events that happen when vehicles collide.  Dictionaries define an ‘accident’ as being some sort of random and unpredictable act, a chance happening, that occurs with no pattern or logic.  Once again the Pareto distribution is relevant. Take a close look at the collision history of any large company and there are just a very small number of collision types that are repeated over and over again. The nose-to-tail collision, the parking and manoeuvring incidents, are perfect examples.

Less than 20% of the types of collision in a claims year will account for more than 80% of the total number of incidents.  When it is the case that such a small range of collision types are repeated over and over again (and in easily predictable situations that keep recurring) how can we call these events ‘accidents’?  It is certainly not ‘random’ or unpredictable.

More importantly it seems bizarre that these common collisions are still very seldom covered in early driver training for novices. It ought to be factored into our training programmes for new drivers so that from the outset they have the ability to avoid becoming involved (even where the collision is primarily of another driver’s making, a streetwise driver  can change the outcomes by taking correct actions).  This why it is left to organisations like Cardinus to help business drivers to understand the simple techniques that will prevent the majority of these repeated collisions.

Put quite simply, nobody goes out each day intending to crash. Far too often the lack of understanding of the most  common collision types and the factors that lead to these, results in predictable and preventable collisions. It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you have any concerns about your business drivers, you can now assess your fleet risk free-of-charge with our quick and easy to use online Fleet Audit which provides guidance on the management of employees who drive on company business, and the vehicles they drive. It covers all aspects of fleet risk management and may include areas of risk you haven’t considered.

For free access to the Fleet Audit click here

Cardinus can also provide online driver training and risk assessment or one-to-one in-vehicle driver training. For details call 020 7469 0200 or email info@cardinus.com

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