Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 07/06/2021
By Ed Dubens, Founder/CEO of eDriving
Safety and sustainability are primary concerns for businesses today. And, with driving for work being the most dangerous work activity many people do, and transportation being the main cause of air pollution in cities, the relationship between driver risk management and sustainability goals is one that should not be underestimated.
While the term ‘eco-driving’ is not new, it’s certainly been elevated to a buzzword right now. Why? Because companies are realizing the full impact they can have on the environment, and that sustainability is a business approach that can create long-term value.
Close to a quarter of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation[i]. So, it’s not surprising that companies are evaluating their transportation activities in relation to their sustainability goals. What is surprising, however, is that some companies are not yet recognizing the important relationship between safety and sustainability. It’s not necessary to see eco-driving as a separate goal to safety performance. Safe, defensive driving is eco-driving.
In particular, harsh driving behaviors – namely acceleration, braking, cornering and speeding – have negative effects on both safety AND fuel consumption. These behaviors also increase wear and tear on a vehicle, affecting vehicle maintenance requirements and costs, and potentially, vehicle lifecycle and residual value. And, of course, a smoother, defensive style of driving not only helps to reduce collisions and injuries, but also vehicle repairs – which themselves place demand on environmental resources.
Speed, in particular, is not only a major contributing factor in road traffic crashes, but it’s also linked to an increase in fuel use, and the emission of greenhouse gases and local pollutants. Identifying inappropriate speeds and providing education and training for drivers on the associated dangers and environmental impacts can help to encourage safer choices.
In addition to encouraging a safer style of driving, there are many other steps organizations can take to help towards both safety and sustainability goals. Reducing miles driven is an obvious consideration, company activities permitting. Working from home, replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings, replacing some trips with public transportation or more sustainable options – such as cycling or walking, along with leveraging carpools and car-sharing are all options to consider. Re-examining company policies, such as travel/mileage reimbursements may also be helpful. For example, over-generous mileage expense rates can act as an incentive to drive unnecessary miles.
Route optimization can help to keep drivers moving safely and efficiently, avoiding congestion, roadworks and incidents, for example. Additionally, smart scheduling to assign jobs and appointments to the most geographically appropriate drivers, can help to reduce unnecessary mileage and idle time.
Another consideration is vehicle selection. Electric vehicles represent the biggest shift towards a greener fleet for many organizations, but there are many other vehicle-related decisions that can contribute towards a more sustainable fleet, including using the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicle appropriate for each job, switching to renewable fuels, carrying out regular vehicle maintenance and conducting regular vehicle checks.
By its very nature, a comprehensive driver risk management program aims to improve driver safety while also reducing your organization’s impact on the environment. Not only that, but an effective safety program will help to decrease total cost of ownership and help to maintain driver well-being and engagement.
About the Author
Ed’s passion is helping companies proactively manage driver risk and prioritize the safety of their employees who drive for work purposes. The ultimate goal of eDriving’s programs is to help drivers return home safely to their loved ones and communities at the end of each day. Ed has been fortunate enough to be living out his passion for over 25 years, impacting lives and helping transform the field of driver risk management along the way.
eDriving’s Mentor program is a digital solution that collects and analyzes driver behaviors most predictive of crash risk and helps remediate risky behavior by providing engaging, interactive micro-training modules delivered directly to the driver in the smartphone app. New for July, Mentor will indicate to drivers just how eco-friendly, as well as safe, their driving is. As part of its broader risk management platform, Virtual Risk Manager®, eDriving provides organizations with everything they need to establish safety as a strategic imperative, and support drivers and managers as they strive to create a crash-free culture®.
eDriving, a Solera company, is the driver risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest organizations, supporting over 1,200,000 drivers in 125 countries. Over the past 25 years, eDriving’s research-validated programs have been recognized with over 100 awards around the world. Learn more at www.edriving.com.
[i] United Nations