Driving is a hazardous activity and completing normal training to obtain a driving license, doesn’t always equip the driver with the skills needed to protect themselves and others from these hazards - there is no substitute for experience or additional training. We understand that driving is a significant safety risk for our people - whether commuting to work, travelling to meetings or serving our customers at millions of homes and businesses across the UK. Ensuring the safety of our drivers is therefore a key priority.
Our rigorous road safety standard, strives to place safety at the forefront of our minds and helps create safer driving practices. For example, with one in four road accidents caused by using mobile phones while driving1, we prohibit the use of mobiles for texting or calling, even if connected to a hands-free device while on the move, which is proving effective in driving down incidents.
Targeted campaigns are run to raise awareness of how simple precautions and being vigilant can help avoid accidents, and save lives. In 2014, we ran campaigns on safe driving during winter and reminded drivers of the need to pay particular attention to cyclists and motor cyclists by fitting warning stickers on the mirrors of our British Gas vehicles.
We provide additional driver safety training to help drivers identify hazardous driving conditions and teach essential defensive driving techniques. Training is focussed on drivers most at risk, such as young or new drivers, those who travel great distances or have switched to a different vehicle type within our fleet. During 2014, more than 3,500 of our British Gas and Direct Energy employees took part in further training.
Our approach to road safety is proving highly effective in preventing accidents on the road. Engineers drove more than 320 million kilometres in 2014, during which unfortunately two of our drivers were involved in a serious accident resulting in treatment in hospital (one in the UK and the other in Canada). This was one accident more than in 2013.
In 2014, we also started to track road traffic events that had the potential to result in significant injury, which will help us to understand and prevent similar incidents from reoccurring in the future. We have improved the process for calculating our low severity road incident rate, to better capture driving incidents and assess our effectiveness in reducing incidents through benchmarking to UK national statistics. This involved us removing incidents relating to vehicle damage not related to a driving event, such as vandalism. As a result, our low severity incident rate fell to 0.2 per million kilometres driven, down from 4.9 in 2013. When comparing UK statistics for commercial vehicle drivers to those at British Gas, we have an 18% lower road traffic incident rate than the national average2.
In 2015, we will endeavour to protect our people and the wider public through proactive driver safety programmes