Highways England invests a great deal of effort and resource into ensuring the operatives that work for the contractors and service providers in its supply chain do so safely. Safety is the primary business imperative for all Highways England operations with various committees and working groups looking at all options to improve the safety of road workers and road users.
Driving for Better Business (DfBB) is an initiative that can do both. It is an existing campaign, 10 years old this year, but which has just been revitalised by Highways England with a massive commitment to fund a new three-year programme. With strong support right at the very top of Highways England, from the CEO and Chairman down, DfBB is a road safety campaign with a difference, one where road safety is the desired outcome, but not the central message.
DfBB was originally set up by the Department for Transport following a report from the Motorists Forum looking into the problems posed by business drivers – whether they be in company cars, vans or trucks, or driving their own cars. Their research showed that employers don’t really listen to road safety messages. While the vast majority don’t want their drivers to put themselves or others at risk, other tasks such as meeting sales targets and growing the business usually take priority.
The focus of the DfBB campaign is therefore to talk to business owners and managers about how managing drivers and vehicles is a central part of the drive for business excellence. Ambitious businesses can achieve many significant business benefits, from the obvious ones such as fewer crash repairs and lower fleet insurance, to less obvious benefits such as reduced staff absence, better fuel efficiency and emissions performance, and lower recruitment and training costs because staff feel more valued and are less likely to leave.
The Campaign uses a growing number of Business Champions to help promote the campaign and prove that the benefits are achievable and not just theoretical. Long standing champions include companies like Skanska and Balfour Beatty who play a large part in the highways sector, as well others like Tesco and Iron Mountain who are heavy road users. Their stories, and the results they’ve achieved, act as an inspiration to other employers.
The campaign is relevant to the highways sector for two key reasons:
- By encouraging employers to pay greater attention to how they manage their vehicles and drivers, the aim is to improve the roadworthiness of company vehicles and the competence of business drivers who use all roads, not just the SRN. The Campaign will also be looking at how it can help address the specific problems associated with heavy network users and traditionally high-risk users such as taxi and private hire firms. All of which will minimise disruption, damage to infrastructure and road furniture, and contribute to reducing the risk to road workers.
- By supporting DfBB, major contractors can lead by example and push to improve standards down through their own supply chains. This, in turn, means their own sub-contractors will pose less of a risk while travelling to, from or around sites and closures. They will also be more efficient and profitable, allowing them to provide you with a better service at a lower cost.
The Driving for Better Business session in this year’s inaugural Safer Highways UK conference, which takes place at Highways UK on 8 November, will provide a full 360 degree take on how this initiative affects the Highways sector and those who work in it. Highways England CEO Jim O’Sullivan will explain his commitment to the campaign and how it affects the SRN supply chain; I will be talking about how the Campaign works in practice; In Clancy Group we have a case study of good practice and striking business benefits from within the supply chain; and with the Van Excellence programme we have a fantastic tool to help validate standards across the whole sector.
I look forward to seeing you all at Safer Highways UK.
Simon Turner is Campaign Director at Driving for Better Business. Safer Highways UK is a new conference running at Highways UK on 8 November.
Simon Turner – Campaign Director, Driving for Better Business