It’s somewhat ironic that in an era of online sales growth, the mobility of the sales professional has never been more important with face-to-face selling of big-ticket contracts as seen as the way forward as the UK tries to dig its way out of the economic crisis.
And so, the company car is now seen less as a luxury but an essential weapon in the salesperson’s arsenal. Consequently, the costs and risks involved in driving large distances annual all impinge on the salesperson’s life and efficiency.
Which is why I want to share some thoughts about the current standard of driving most salespeople will be aware of only too well during a busy day on the road.
The costs incurred by road accidents directly affect any sales organisation’s insurance premiums and also, for those unfortunate to be involved in a collision, the chances of even holding on to the coveted field sales role.
And while it is true that latest government figures show an across-the-board decline in accidents, many experts believe this has much to do with both the reduction in car use by cash-strapped families and weather conditions which kept many off the roads.
Yet, all drivers will be able to cite a catalogue of instances of poor driving standards they, or friends and family, have suffered. These standards are particularly evident for two wheelers, cyclists and motor-cyclists, who are increasingly vulnerable on our congested roads. While these may not directly affect most car drivers, the costs involved with these often fatal collisions do affect both personal and business fleet insurance policies and influence an employer’s ability to field a mobile sales force.
So I want to suggest this – a radical change in the driving culture including apportioning automatic blame.
This is not an entirely new idea because both Holland and German already have a similar policy of apportioning automatic blame on any vehicle involved in an accident with a bicycle. The affect on the motorists in those countries is that they do their level best to avoid driving anywhere near a cyclist in the full knowledge that, even if a cyclist falls off of their own volition, the driver will be held accountable should they then collide with the cyclist.
Essentially, they have moved the fear of an accident from the shoulders of the cyclist onto the shoulders of the motorist who, naturally, is better protected in their vehicle.
So, why not extend this principle across the transport world? I am suggesting a vehicle hierarchy where the larger the vehicle, the greater the burden of responsibility. In this way, a cyclist struck by a motor-cyclist will see automatic blame apportioned to the motor-cycle rider; a motor-cyclist struck by a car driver sees the car driver penalised and the car struck by a van will have an automatic insurance settlement against the van driver and so on.
This system has several major advantages. Firstly, insurance companies will have to expend much less resources on accident investigation and insurance premiums could fall. Secondly, drivers of larger vehicles will experience a radical change of attitude as those most likely to be blamed for accidents.
I suspect, the maniac driving habits of many van and skip-lorry drivers would change over night as they see the threat of damaging their employer’s insurance claims record and, ultimately, exposing themselves to losing their jobs.
And, anyway, does it not make sense that the drivers of the largest vehicles take more responsibility? At the moment they have less to lose, driving much larger, better protected vehicles, than the smaller motors with which they are involved in a collision.
Ultimately, large vehicle owners may accept the costs of applying existing hi-tech 360 degree monitoring systems onto their vehicles to protect the driver against a possible collision with a smaller vehicle.
In the end, this will be beneficial to all individuals and organisations that depend on good driving standards to efficiently and economically go about their business.