Engaging drivers in their work is the key to creating safer roads for cyclists, says Steve Witty of leading logistics company Keystone Distribution UK. Truck drivers need to view themselves as professionals – proud to be the best people at handling heavy vehicles.
Steve Witty made the statements at a Keystone hosted forum for members of Transport for London’s Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS). The forum was the first in a series of FORS briefings designed to put logistics firms at the forefront of any new industry practices.
The members discussed the possible introduction of mandatory side scan technology for heavy goods vehicles. Experts and politicians alike want sensors fitted to the left indicators of these vehicles to prevent ‘blind spot’ collisions with cyclists. These sensors alert the driver when anything is in the danger zone. And they give a spoken message, warning cyclists that a vehicle is turning left.
Yet since 2005, Keystone has not had a single accident with a cyclist. And this zero accident rate is largely brought about by a rigorous driver training process – instead of over reliance on technology.
"Technology is important, but good driver training is essential," says Steve Witty. "Statistics show that even when vehicles have reversing cameras fitted, they can still have collisions. So we rely on engaging our drivers. We use numerous tools such as our driver development programme and communicate via league tables to motivate them to perform to the best of their abilities. We use technology too, including telematics which we use primarily as a training tool," he says.
Telematics measures driving errors, such as revving, fuel wastage and heavy braking. Keystone statistics show that the average driver is able to go 700-800 hours without a single error – even in busy cities. The top performing drivers can go over 6000 miles without an error. This type of safe driving has led to an overall accident rate below the industry standard.
"This forum has enabled us to share some of the areas that we lead the industry in. But it has also given us the chance to listen to the feedback of other industry experts and learn ways to approach the shared challenges that we have," says Steve Witty.