Driver Risk Assessment – The Essential Guide

Driver risk assessment is the foundation of any driver risk management strategy. So, here’s our essential guide to the what, why and how of driver risk assessment.

What is a driver risk assessment?

A driver risk assessment enables you  to identify the risks of employees being involved in a crash. Most assessments are in the form of a survey. These are completed by individual drivers via an online platform, that generates automated risk profiles.

Why use a driver risk assessment?

An  accurate identification of individual driver risk enables you to target training interventions to reduce the risks to your drivers. It also enables you to demonstrate that you are actively managing  risk as part of your legal health and safety obligations.

What does a driver risk assessment measure?

This depends on the risk assessment you choose. Decades of research evidence shows that driving skills are not the key issue when it comes to crash risk. Instead, it is the behaviours that people exhibit in particular situations that cause the risk. In other words, people know what to do, but don’t always do what they know!

What is driver behaviour?

Driver skill refers to the mechanical skills of driving a vehicle. In contrast, driver behaviour refers to the lifestyles, the motives, the attitudes, the beliefs, the thought processes, the biases that individuals have that might actually impact on the decisions they make as a driver.

There are many different behaviours that can contribute to whether or not somebody is involved in a crash. Our research has identified some of the key factors. These include drivers feeling angry and frustrated, thrill-seeking tendencies, hazard monitoring and using ineffective coping strategies for managing the stress of driving for work.

How to tell if a driver risk assessment is accurate

If the assessment doesn’t accurately identify at risk drivers and the behaviours causing their risks, then you could make the wrong decisions in terms of your risk reduction interventions. We suggest you look at two key areas: research evidence and practical results.

For example, Driver Metrics Profiling is is the subject of over 70 published, peer reviewed academic papers. It has reliably been shown that these factors are personality-based emotional responses to driving, and they are associated with crashes, errors, driver behaviours and reactions behind the wheel.

When combined with an interventions, such as eLearning, we have also seen reductions in the numbers of crashes taking place. There are also positive benefits such as job satisfaction, lower turnover and less absenteeism.

How to assess different types of drivers

Research has shown that there are risk factors that are specific to particular types of drivers. For example, a company car driver moving between appointments, is likely to face different pressures than a bus driver, driving on a regular route. Ideally, your driver risk assessment will discriminate between these different types of drivers. At DriverMetrics we have developed driver profiling variants for a range of different driver types. These include fleet, grey fleet, bus, truck, fire, police and ambulance drivers.

Managing risk in different countries

You also need to take account of the differing driver risk levels in different countries. Through our work with multi-national fleets , we have found significant variations in risk levels by country. That’s why we decided to translate and benchmark DriverMetrics Profiling for each country we work in. Benchmarking means that when we assess a driver in say, the UK, the results are based on a comparison with other drivers, of a similar type, in the UK.

How to manage the driver risk assessment process

Individual driver risk profile reports are useful, for both drivers and managers. However, we recommend that you ensure that your risk assessment offers a robust management information system (MIS). A good MIS will enable you easily view completed driver risk assessments, driver risk profiles and demonstrate an audit trail of compliance with your driver risk management plan.

How to reduce the risks identified in the driver risk assessment

If you are going to assess driver risk, you need to make sure that you have a plan to mitigate the risks identified by the risk assessment. This requires some form of intervention, that should be tailored to the specific issues identified in each  driver risk assessment.  Most DriverMetrics clients choose eLearning as it can be automatically tailored to each drivers risk profile and implemented across distributed geographical locations at an affordable cost.

However, some organisations choose to use workshops for groups of drivers, or in-vehicle coaching for individual high risk drivers. Regardless, of the delivery mode, we strongly advocate a coaching-led approach which helps drivers to reflect on their behaviours behind the wheel and move towards self-managing their risk factors.