Driver Safety – Case Study Targeting 50% Reduction in Car Accidents

A recent European study identified that the driver accounts for 20% of Total Cost of Ownership – for bad drivers, this goes up to 40%. That is a stark reminder of the importance of driver behaviour with regard to cost – and of the huge significance of automated and intelligent driving. Both underline the increasing relevance of telematics as a driver safety feature, as highlighted by a recent case study by the British American Tabacco Company.

BAT operates 26,000 vehicles globally. So, any consolidation of data on its fleet, determining the essential operating needs and successfully developing and comprehensive strategy is no mean feat. Two key areas have become the main thrust of BAT’s approach – primarily driver safety, and also the reduction of the Co2 output by the fleet. The study showed that BAT had 318 accidents per year. Significantly, BAT determined that by utilising the right tools, driver training and effective processes, 50% of these accidents in the Trade Marketing Division could have been avoided altogether, thus presenting an obvious improvement opportunity for driver safety.

The project to effect these three requirements has been formed under the name: ‘Closing the Gap to Zero’, with the aim to ‘Mitigate vehicle related incidents’. In order to achieve these objectives and improve driver safety, BAT have formed a logical, sequential and thorough series of project stages and time deadlines. But, there is also a high level of pragmatism involved in this key stage, insomuch as the timing is set to get the work completed properly: speed of accomplishment is important, but not at the expense of a thorough job being achieved. In addition, BAT intend to standardise the fuel policy, achieve ‘route to market optimisation’, Global Hazard Perception training and improve management of the correct driving behaviour and driver safety.

This entire project, with its multi layered approach would be very difficult to achieve without data ‘What gets measured gets improved’ So, this is where BAT’s decision to install a global telematics programme in 41 countries for around 15,000 vehicles comes into the frame of the entire project. Big Data derived from the telematics, and the subsequent analysis of that data, will assist in establishing not only what needs to be done with the fleet, but also to measure the efficacy of the decisions made and actions taken. Via telematics British American Tobacco expects to increase fuel efficiency with 6.8%, reduce insurance premium with 8.5%, and improve route optimisation with 20% while REDUCING CAR ACCIDENTS CLAIMS AND ADMINISTRATION COSTS BY 35%. In all the telematics project is set to deliver a Return on Investment of 2.65 over a 5-year period.

The project is still ongoing but shows that BAT have undertaken a thorough and efficient evaluation as to the current status of their global vehicle fleet. It has taken some significant steps to improve the safety of the drivers and have committed to installing the right telematic tools to accurately measure progress and improve driver safety.

Crash Management can help. Our 24/7 accident response service supports driver safety in the event of a car accident, and we can help reduce fleet accident rates. Talk to us now about the right accident prevention products and services for your fleet.

4 Responses

  1. Hans
    | Reply

    Good news feeds on the fleet and driver safety theme Crash Management thanks. This is an excellent case study highlighting how sound accident management principles and prevention tools are effective in driving (no pun intended!) down crash rates. Aside from the huge financial savings to be made from eliminating the waste involved in car accidents, the human benefit is enormous. Vehicle accident mitigation is critical work every Health & Safety Manager at every company should be putting more effort into. This space seems to be quite underestimated though, little is written about it so really appreciate the leadership in profiling and informing on the subject thank you.

  2. Hans
    | Reply

    Always appreciate you keeping the focus on driver safety Crash Management. I see Worksafe CEO Nicole Rosie raised the matter in a NZ Herald article today, great to see because even the Health & Safety profession seems to have forgotten about this obvious hazard. I’d be interested in seeing more fleet management case studies on strategies, resources and tools used to improve driver safety. Meantime here’s Ms Rosie’s article in case you missed it.

    Health and safety should be a strategic focus for all directors.
    Last Saturday Brian Gaynor suggested red tape was tying businesses in knots, forcing directors to focus too much on short-term compliance.
    Brian says it is vital all company directors focus on the big stuff. I agree. It’s the big stuff that really matters.
    That is why New Zealand boards and directors should focus on health and safety as a strategic priority.
    Effective health and safety is all about creating sustainable businesses, not compliance. It is at the heart of any successful business. Getting all the team home healthy and safe at the end of each day must be a strategic priority. It also makes good business sense and is an essential component of employee engagement, productivity and business sustainability.
    Unfortunately, New Zealand’s health and safety performance remains one of the worst in the OECD. While there are some positive signals that we’re making progress towards the Government’s target of reducing work-related deaths and serious injuries by at least 25 per cent by the year 2020, 28 New Zealanders have lost their lives at work this year. This is devastating and I offer my heartfelt sympathies to their families, colleagues and communities.
    Most New Zealand businesses are small to medium sized (fewer than 20 people). It’s hard to imagine anything more catastrophic for a business than the death of a worker or its owner while at work.
    What’s so sad is that many of the recent deaths have been caused by the same types of issues that have been killing Kiwi workers for years: vehicle accidents (including many involving workers in service industries), forklifts, falls, unguarded machinery. Directors need to focus on critical risks, those things in their businesses that will kill and maim, and ensure their organisation is effectively managing those risks and their controls.
    More than this, it is about creating environments where employee health and wellbeing is also considered. This is relevant to all businesses including those in the service sector.
    This was highlighted by a recent Harvard article that looked at a study published in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study proposed a model to help the investment community better understand the value, in a financial sense, of health and safety for a workforce. One study cited tracked a theoretical $10,000 investment in health, safety and wellbeing over 13-15 years and found companies with “strong health, safety, and environmental programmes” outperformed the S&P 500.
    What is critical is that directors focus on the right stuff. The Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) came into effect on April 4, 2016. Far from being a box-ticking compliance exercise, the act takes a risk-based approach. So, as Brian notes, for the many Kiwi businesses in the service industry, it’s about identifying and managing the critical risks they face – for example, vehicle accidents, international travel, physical security and health issues like work-related stress.
    The act does not promote paperwork for the sake of it, and it certainly doesn’t suggest the risks are the same across different industries. But it does require directors to be accountable for health and safety. And, if they are found to have (without reasonable excuse) engaged in conduct that exposes any individual to a risk of death, serious injury or illness, or to have been reckless about the risk, they will be held responsible.
    Effective health and safety is not about compliance. It is about creating successful and sustainable businesses that care for their people – something all boards should aspire to.
    Nicole Rosie is chief executive of WorkSafe. She has held senior roles at Fonterra, KiwiRail, Toll NZ and Fletcher Challenge Forests. She has master’s degrees in public health and law.

  3. Tui
    | Reply

    I agree – It’s pleasing to see some focus on driving and traffic accident hazard finally, thanks WorkSafe. One of the problems is driving impairment including drugs and alcohol and this is often undiscussed and unaddressed. There is an excellent article in SafeGuard this month focusing on this issue so thought I’d share – below or you can view at

    Alcohol and recreational drugs are well known to impair drivers, but what about prescription medications? MARGARET STEVENSON-WRIGHT reports.

    Many organisations will have a policy in place to deal with minimising employee fatigue while driving a company vehicle – but what about helping to prevent an employee injuring themselves or others when impaired from prescription medication for a heart condition or an over-the-counter cold remedy?
    The evidence shows that substance-impaired driving is a serious and sizeable problem in New Zealand. This is when drivers are at risk of driving impaired due to the effects of legal medication (or illegal drugs), used with or without alcohol. In terms of crashes on our roads, research indicates one in three drivers killed tested positive for drugs or medications that may impair driving1.
    Pharmac data shows that in New Zealand each year, for people of driving age, over 7.5 million new prescriptions are written for medications that may impair. In fact, one in four of all medications prescribed to this group may lead to impairment. Yet many people feel uninformed about how medication can affect their driving.
    Most people want to drive responsibly. NZ Transport Agency studies show that most drivers (96 percent) agree that substance impaired driving is important, with 50 percent wanting to know more, but one in three not knowing where to go to get information.
    Common New Zealand prescription medications that may impair driving include strong painkillers; sleeping tablets; medications for anxiety, nausea, allergies, epilepsy and depression; or anti-psychotic and heart medication. Not everyone who takes one or more medications in these categories will be impaired when driving so individuals need to talk to their health practitioner about their personal circumstances.
    For instance, their particular medication may not impair, or there may be a simple solution to manage the risk of impairment, such as taking tablets at night so they’re not impaired by the time they drive in the morning, or not drinking any alcohol while taking their medication. Mixing alcohol with medications or drugs that impair driving can make drivers 23 times more likely to have a fatal crash than those that use neither.
    Since 2012, the NZ Transport Agency has been investigating substance impaired driving as part of its 2020 Safer Journeys strategy. The aim of the Substance Impaired Driving Project is to enhance understanding of the issue, to demonstrate solutions, and ultimately to reduce serious injuries and deaths on our roads. Substantial evidence has been gathered which shows that it’s a bigger issue than was previously thought.
    There are many agencies involved in the project. It’s led by the Transport Agency in partnership with the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Health, the New Zealand Police, and ACC, and in collaboration with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, the Pharmaceutical Society, Environmental Science Research, New Zealand Drug Foundation, Safe and Sustainable Transport Association, The New Zealand Automobile Association, and Students Against Dangerous Driving.
    The first project “solution” is a suite of resources for health practitioners to help them have a “safe to drive” conversation with their patients when they prescribe or dispense medication that may impair driving. These resources were developed collaboratively with a group of health practitioners and the Royal New Zealand College of GPs and the Pharmaceutical Society.
    Health practitioners are encouraged to advise drivers on four key areas:
    • • That the medication they are getting today may impair driving.
    • • How it may impair.
    • • Signs and symptoms to look out for.
    • • Staying safe with driving.
    The resources for drivers and health professionals are now available and are being promoted in collaboration with the RNZCGP and Pharmaceutical Society. This will be supported by an online Continuing Professional Development tool for health practitioners currently being developed.
    A second project “solution” has been on supporting change in the transport sector through direct education of professional drivers (and their employers) by the Transport Agency, in partnership with NZ Police.
    Some additional research was undertaken to help the heavy transport industry better understand the risks for their staff. The research showed that for male drivers aged 40 to 49 years old (a typical profile of a New Zealand heavy transport driver) two of the seven new prescriptions given each year are likely to be for medications that may impair. For older males aged 50 to 59 (also typical heavy transport drivers) that changes to three of 11 new prescriptions. For male drivers reaching retirement age of 60 to 69 years (a common part-time bus driver demographic), four of the 17 new prescriptions each year are likely to be for medications that may impair.
    Driver information resources are being provided to heavy transport organisations and drivers. Refined education resources will soon be developed based on more sector-specific research which is currently under way.
    Medication impairment is important information for any driver to be aware of, and there’s a shared responsibility for employers to help staff hear about the issue. If you have people in your organisation who drive professionally, or who regularly or occasionally drive fleet cars, or staff who commute to work by car, then please raise the issue with them. It can be a sensitive topic to discuss in the workplace as it concerns people’s private medical information but it doesn’t require anyone to share this private medical information with their employer.
    Being told about the potential for a problem means they can talk to their health practitioner and find out if they’re specifically at risk and if so, how to safely manage that risk.
    For more information go to: http://www.nzta/medication
    Prescription meds to watch for
    This long acting medication used for anxiety and insomnia impairs driving 10 to 17 hours after it’s taken. There are over 100,000 prescriptions for people of driving age each year for this medication.
    (Eg Panadeine and other brands that can be bought over-the-counter, or through a prescription.) Used for pain management. Impairs drivers in an older age bracket (55 to 65 years old). There are over 300,000 prescriptions for people of driving age each year for this medication – and also many over the counter purchases.
    Used mainly for insomnia. Causes marked impairment ten hours after being taken at bedtime. There are over 500,000 prescriptions for people of driving age each year for this medication.
    Margaret Stevenson-Wright is a senior adviser education with the New Zealand Transport Agency.
    1. *Margaret Stevenson-Wright is a senior adviser education with the New Zealand Transport Agency.
    2. 1Poulsen, H, 2010 – Alcohol and other drug use in New Zealand drivers 2004 to 2009. Reanalysis of this data focusing only on medication shows that 1 in 13 drivers killed on New Zealand roads has medications in their system that may impair driving.

  4. Jenni J
    | Reply

    This looks interesting too and I totally agree “professional drivers” have a bad reputation and cause most of the accidents. I’ve been hit twice by company fleet cars, neither my fault. Keep up the good work Crash Management Team. thanks Jenni.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *