When it comes to discussing collisions, especially those involving drivers of business-owned vehicles, a common response is, “But it was the other driver’s fault. Why are you asking me about it?” This is often accompanied by an indignant glare.

Clearly the advice from insurance companies that you should never admit that it might have been your fault is one aspect of this. It leads drivers into a train of thought revolving around the issues of culpability – but so often side-tracks them away from any possible learning points.

When a driver or passenger is injured even slightly, we seldom consider the driver’s state of mind. It is natural for the driver to focus on the incident, the continuing thoughts, flashbacks and concerns will all have an impact long after the event. His normal effectiveness is bound to be affected and it is unlikely their true potential is sustained – a hidden cost that is difficult to quantify.

This is only a part of the story. Consider the company running a specialised vehicle that has to come off the road for a period after an incident. The ability to access a suitable replacement vehicle to fill that specialised need temporarily is not a simple task. Some companies even find themselves having to keep several ‘older’ end-of-life vehicles back in reserve for such eventualities, an additional cost that the business must bear.

Even replacement of a simple standard car or van has a cost. How long does it take you to get it? Will that vehicle have the same hands-free system and satellite navigation that we all rely on so much? When moving to a temporary vehicle for a couple of weeks, how often does the driver remember to take absolutely everything they need to do their job from the vehicle in for repair? Once a vehicle has been repaired, one would hope that the repair is carried out to the standard that reflects the vehicle condition prior to the collision. Sadly this is not always the case and is yet another hidden expense to be borne by the business.

It used to be reasonable to assume that the third-party’s insurer will cover the cost of repairs to the vehicle. Regrettably, this is not always the case with a significant number of uninsured vehicles on the road in the UK. We can no longer expect to always be fully compensated following a collision.

But there is far more to the aftermath of a collision than just bent metal and recovery costs. One would hope that if anyone is injured, the innocent party will be compensated correctly. However, life is rarely that simple. In an age where the ‘compensation culture’ is rife it is appropriate to mention that the person who really is injured may have an uphill struggle to get what is owed to them as insurers try to fight back on costs. And it all takes time. Lots of expensive time.

Drivers tend to be divided into three groups:

  • Those that cause collisions. Whether through inattention, inexperience or a failure to comply with the rules of the road, collisions are attributable to these drivers.
  • Other drivers who get involved in the above collisions. They might have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time but there is often more to it than that, especially when we consider the third group.
  • Those who don’t get involved. Whilst sharing the same roads and the same frustrations as other drivers, these are the people who have developed that level of awareness whereby they are conscious of the common errors that others make, and have that ability to see collisions developing and take whatever action necessary to remain incident-free.

All drivers have the ability to get into the third category. Those with an air of indifference and ‘not my fault’ responses are in a different mental state and have yet to learn how to develop the right attitude. They often need to be helped to do so.

Good driver training focuses on helping people to understand the mistakes that bring harm, cost and stress to businesses. Most people think that they learned to drive years ago. But those days in a small car with an instructor were simply spent learning to pass a test. Many drivers never go beyond that stage.

A number of years ago a well-respected pharmaceutical company embarked on a major programme of driver development and training to try to stem the vast sums paid to insurers and local repair centres. After two years of concerted effort they were surprised to find that their collision history had not only shown a substantial drop in ‘own-fault’ collisions, but there was an even greater drop in third-party fault incidents. They realised that more of their drivers were now in the third category of driver, seeing problems developing and taking pro-active action to avoid a crash caused by another.

For any organisation looking at protecting their valuable staff and assets, a key message to reinforce from the outset is to focus on ‘avoidability’ rather than ‘responsibility’. It’s not OK to crash just because the other driver was to blame. One of the things that human beings do consistently is make mistakes. The older and wiser are aware of this and spend time understanding how, where, why those mistakes are made and it’s this experience that helps avoid those errors in future.

Cardinus provides a range of road risk solutions offering a cost effective and efficient way of raising awareness and achieving compliance. To request a free trial of our driver safety e-learning with up to 5% of your workforce click here.

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