The following news item is sourced from Teletract here.
How Jerome Carslake helps the road transport industry become safer and more efficient.
The problems faced by one operator are also issues hundreds of other operators are dealing with, which is why a collaborative approach to road and driver safety can benefit the industry, says Jerome Carslake, Director of the National Road Safety Partnership Program at the Accident Research Centre – Accident Research Centre (monash.edu).
Yet one of the real issues he comes across every day is people trying to do things on their own. “They might talk to us and get some ideas and then run off and do it by themselves,” he says. “So, one of the biggest things is getting a third party involved who can provide an evidence base and show there’s no vested interest here.”
When it comes to road safety, there’s no silver bullet, he says. Instead, it’s a system approach where technology, vehicle policies, procedures, governance, and mentoring, along with management and leadership, all work together to create a safer driving community.
Empowering drivers has made a massive difference
Empowering drivers to understand risks, their triggers, and their own behaviour behind the wheel has made a massive difference to road safety over the last few years. This means giving them information and allowing them to act upon it, as well as providing mentoring and the ability to understand some of the core issues they face when they are on the road.
“Do the policies and procedures support the fact things are being done for the right reasons, and then reward drivers when they do the right thing?” Carslake asks. He also notes workplace culture is important, and drivers must be able to share problems and issues with management when they arise.
With that in mind, Carslake says the industry is undoubtedly safer than it was a decade ago because there’s more sharing and collaboration. Part of that rise in safety is the fact operators are now working with drivers to come up with safety solutions and strategies. It’s this collaborative effort that will guide the industry towards an even safer future because if a plan is developed, he says, and the workers aren’t brought along for the ride, then it’s unlikely they will use those tools when they’re out on the road.
“Drivers always need to be won over,” he says. “Providing feedback is a journey and unless there’s a continuous conversation, they’ll start forgetting what they’ve learned.”
The role of technology in road safety
According to Carslake, tech has a huge role in advancing road safety. Telematics, dashcams, and newer vehicles, as well as information sent to government about the state of roads and how they’re used, all contributes.
But, he says, technology is still just a tool and improved safety all comes down to how an organisation uses and applies the technology. Drivers must be trained in how the technology in their trucks works and how to use it, otherwise it just gets switched off.
“Technology can help drivers understand where the thresholds are, why their speed matters, and why having a break matters,” he says. “It can also help them appreciate why it’s important to take the time to pull over, have a break and self-regulate.”
Compliance and corporate social responsibility
Road safety is also a critical part of corporate social responsibility for operators, who need to demonstrate they’re committed to protecting the communities they operate in. It’s all about making sure drivers get home safely and their families are protected.
It can also extend beyond driver safety, however, into campaigns around road safety within communities, he says, even down to simple messaging like making sure parents have child seats for their kids, and those seats are correctly fitted, and the child is appropriately restrained.
When it comes to compliance, Carslake says huge costs can arise from simple mistakes like fatigue management. “The moment you begin pushing limits and not working efficiently, operational costs of the vehicle go through the roof. Everything is interlinked, so when people feel pressured, their performance goes down, they’re pushing the envelope and mistakes happen.”
Some companies will try to cut corners on compliance, but the reality is, it’s a lose-lose situation because driver and road-user safety is compromised. Rested workers and well-maintained vehicles lead to higher profits and better efficiency, he says. “It’s the same duty of care for someone driving a vehicle to working on the factory floor or in an office. All these elements are intertwined, but a lot of people still often miss them.”
Telematics isn’t about being a big brother over the drivers, he says. Instead, it’s about peace of mind. If something does go wrong, management can also respond quickly because they know where the truck is, and what the event was.
The next decade
Carslake says over the next ten years he’d like to see better recognition for the amazing work drivers do, as well as the creation of better career paths for people who want to become professional drivers.
He’d also love to see the average age of vehicles dropping and new trucks becoming more affordable, as well as driver contracts rewarding and recognising safe driving.
The safety of drivers is an ongoing project. Technology can help, but operators need to be on board with their driver training and coaching, rewarding good behaviour and offering incentives for drivers to improve. Telematics is one solution, but as Carslake says, advice from third parties, like his organisation, is invaluable, as is industry-wide collaboration. If the industry works together, safety outcomes are bound to improve.