“Currently electric vehicles are not for us in terms of operational requirement or wholelife costs.
"Diesel vans continue to be the way forward for WDH at the moment, although I will be looking towards hydrogen power when we undertake our next tender in 2017 for introduction in 2018.”
Not surprisingly given Young’s heavy haulage back-ground coupled with the high-profile local operation of the WDH fleet, occupational road risk management is of paramount importance.
Driver authorisation, including online driver licence checks, driver awareness training and an assessment for all new employees expected to drive, as part of their induction programme as well as for current employees involved in an incident, are well established.
So is drivers’ daily defect reporting, post incident interviews with remedial action if required and vehicle tracking, introduced to aid fleet utilisation that triggered a 15% fleet size reduction.
The comprehensive programme resulted in a £20,000 insurance premium saving in 2013/14 following a record of reduction of both claims (down 48% since January 2011) and costs with incident severity (down more than 60% over the same period).
WDH gave its duty-of-care procedures a boost last year with the launch of driver awareness sessions, which were attended by all tradesmen required to drive.
“We wanted to remind drivers of the business benefits of daily vehicle checks, risk assessments and safe and fuel efficient driving. If they understand the total financial cost of accidents to the business then they can play their part,” says Young.
“All the initiatives taken to improve driver and vehicle safety are underpinned by our fleet policy incorporating contributions from all levels of the organisation and issued to all authorised drivers in a format that is up to date, robust and explains exactly what WDH expects from its drivers.
"It also contained all the relevant information they need to ensure the safe operation of their vehicle.”
That is exactly what drivers have done and next the focus is on issuing ‘be careful’ reminders aimed at reducing the replacement cost of damaged van wing mirrors at a price of £250-£300 a time.
Staff help to downsize vans
“We have introduced many initiatives and through the driver awareness sessions we have made employees more mindful of their responsibilities and how they can help the business.”
Critically, drivers also have a say in the size of van they drive and its specification.
“We have been able to downsize the vans on the fleet by tapping into the employees’ knowledge and experience of the goods and equipment they need to do their jobs,” he says.
“The result is that drivers care more about their vehicle.”
Further benefits of such an engagement strategy include fewer incidents, fuel bill savings as a result of employees driving ‘smarter’ and a reduction in end-of-contract vehicle damage charges.
Young says: “Winning the Fleet Van award makes clear to the community in which we work that the vans are operated to the very highest standards and that I, as fleet manager, am doing something right.”