AFP Guide: Best practice to manage the driver business journey – definition, facts and myths.

Date: 3rd November 2021

A business journey can be defined as ‘the travel between the one permanent workplace and a temporary workplace‘, or ‘travel between home and a temporary workplace‘, or ‘travel between two temporary workplaces‘.

An employee may change their workplace for a temporary period enabling the journey from home to the workplace to be classed as a ‘business journey’.

However, if an employee attends the same temporary workplace for a period of 24 months or longer, then they are said to be on ‘detached duty’, and their ‘temporary workplace’ will be regarded as their ‘new permanent workplace’.

BuildingsIt is important to note that where an employee is required, because of Covid restrictions, to work at home on some days and at their company’s offices on others, the travel between home and the company’s offices on the days they are required to be there will be ‘ordinary commuting’ and is not classed as a ‘business journey’ from a reimbursement perspective.

The driver, their welfare and the consequences of their actions are the responsibility of their employer whilst they are travelling on business. This still holds true even if they are using their own vehicle.

For example, if an employee is dropping off some work post on the way home then this is technically classed as a business journey and the normal Grey Fleet vehicle requirements apply, i.e. they need to have business-use insurance as they are using their own personal vehicle for a work-related journey.

Best Practice Suggestions

Think about the culture in your business and challenge ‘old fashioned’ behaviour that ‘celebrates’ doing ridiculously high mileages. High mileage drivers face much higher risks from fatigue. Spending too much time behind the wheel will have an adverse effect on their productivity unless they are a professional driver.

Figure out what you want to measure and where to get the associated data from. For example, if you want to know incident rates by distance travelled, group your drivers by annual mileage bands and analyse the likelihood of incidents against the different bands. The data required to achieve this analysis can typically be obtained from your fleet management system, telematics data or your accident management provider.

Compare and benchmark your data including incident rates with other fleets and more importantly, similar companies within your sector or industry.

Identify your problem areas and what needs to be done to address them. You may need to invest in hardware/systems or third party providers to actually get to the route of the problem i.e. you may know that you are having too many incidents but don’t know why.

Investigate every reported vehicle incident for evidence of higher risk behaviour (such as speeding) and other patterns or commonalities between collisions, i.e. more frequent at a certain time of day, or on a particular road. This information can be collated and analysed to gain visibility of trends and identify where resource may need to be focused. Support to do this may be available from your fleet management system supplier or accident management provider.

Presenting the monetised costs of your incidents will help obtain ‘buy in’ from the relevant stakeholders in your business, allowing you to introduce objectives or new policies/procedures to reduce risk and incidents. If required, it will also help evidence the need for your business to invest in systems, training and suppliers. Obtaining ‘buy-in’ from your business will also make it easier for you to introduce objectives along with robust policies to reduce your incidents and risk going forward.

TelematicsTelematics data can be used to identify drivers who display adverse driving behaviour such as speeding, harsh braking and accelerating. Through aggregating data, you will have a significantly greater insight into how a driver is performing behind the wheel and work with driver risk management businesses to understand what you need to do to put it right.

Fleet Risk systems or Fleet Management providers can be used to analyse excessive service and maintenance expenditure for evidence of harsher driving styles. For example, more frequent tyre replacements can indicate harsher acceleration and braking. Windscreen chips can indicate tailgating/driving too close to the car in front.

Monitoring business mileages, expense claims and licence endorsements can be achieved by capturing the data within a fleet system, using a third party supplier or doing it manually.

Ideally, you will need systems, processes or third party suppliers to enable:

  • Itemised journey logging to identify drivers undertaking higher risk distances. This applies to both company vehicle drivers and grey fleet drivers
  • Driving licence checks at different frequencies depending on the driver’s associated risk – linked to the number of points on the licence. For example, more points should necessitate more frequent checks.
  • Mechanisms to ensure that drivers notify the fleet department or other relevant department instantly of any potential fines/endorsement points.
  • Mechanisms to subsequently check licences four weeks after the driver has notified of points to verify the driver’s account i.e. checking that only three points were incurred, not six points.

Identifying drivers who, due to their driving activities, history, knowledge, and situational risk may be at a higher risk when they drive is an important part of managing the business driver journey. This can be done by carrying an individual driver risk assessment, either internally, or using a third party supplier to support. Once you have visibility of the driver risks within your organisation and potential areas of weakness or gaps in knowledge, it can be addressed with:

  • E-learning modules/courses
  • Classroom training/workshops
  • In-vehicle, on-road training
  • Many fleets believe that good driving behaviour should not deserve a reward as the driver is only doing exactly what is expected of them. However, there are also fleets that have added schemes to reward ‘Good Drivers’ and have seen the benefits of doing this.
  • Tackle the first signs of poor driving behaviour early and head on (with a big penalty!)

Policy considerations

Set clear guidelines within your policy for acceptable safe driving behaviour, such as:

  • Take a break every 2 hours of driving
  • Prohibit seven days per week working patterns
  • Have a clear policy about mobile phone use behind the wheel, i.e. only take incoming calls or even no calls while driving
  • Insist that any one-way journeys of more than four hours be undertaken by alternative transport wherever possible
  • Encourage hotel stays for journeys over a certain time/distance (4 hours, 250 miles for example)
  • A clear, defined process and escalation procedure for dealing with high risk drivers that have unacceptable behaviours and haven’t met the required standards even after receiving relevant training and/or guidance
  • Address higher risk behaviours via a driver’s line manager in the first instance
  • If risky behaviour continues, address via line manager with fleet support
  • If risky behaviour persists, involve HR.

Driver communications

Make your company obligations clear regarding the duty of care for employees who drive on business along with your corporate social responsibilities and set high expectations for what you expect from your drivers.

Be clear and transparent regarding the importance of having robust fleet policies and why they need to be in place. It’s a lot easier getting compliance from your drivers when they buy into what you are trying to achieve.

Share your statistics and what you want to achieve with your drivers – which is primarily their safety.

Explain to drivers in terms that will resonate to focus their minds, i.e. we need to sell x amount of product to pay for the average incident cost along with the associated time off work.

Make sure that your drivers fully understand your policies and the consequences of non-compliance, i.e. they are encouraged to stay in hotel when their journey exceeds a certain time threshold or what’s likely to happen if you have a policy where drivers can’t drive when then have more than a certain number of endorsement points and a driver exceeds this threshold.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the business journey, please get in touch at [email protected]