It's one achievement that us Brits can't be proud of; in the past, the UK has been 'heralded' as the road rage capital of the world. Recent research has revealed that one in four of us have been on the receiving end of angry outbursts when another driver has lost their rag over a perceived on-road slight
We've all seen the headlines – from the cyclist who got an unexpected ride on the bonnet of an infuriated driver's vehicle through to the horrific incident where one furious woman in Florida refused to leave her vehicle even though it was on fire. Away from such headlines though, there is another very real cost.
According to AXA, £35 of every insurance premium pays for accidents that are the result of road rage, and some 800 lives are lost each year because of red-misted driving. Perhaps most worryingly, while many of us have been on the receiving end of road rage, 53% of us have admitted that we have displayed 'aggressive behaviour' when behind the wheel.
With company drivers spending so many hours on the road, common sense would dictate that they are the ones most likely to be on the receiving end of an enraged driver – or, dare we say it, be the one dishing it out...
Here are some of the most common triggers of road rage:
- “What the *&*# do you think you're doing, you #&%&?”
Motorists crawling along in the outside lane of the motorway; drivers yakking away on their mobiles, completely oblivious to road conditions; drivers tailgating vehicles; drivers who make sudden changes of lanes, cutting people up. All can trigger a rage that results in the flashing of lights, horn beeping, bizarre displays of hand gesturing and much, much worse.
- “Stringing up the stereotype”
We're all guilty of it; blaming who we perceive to be behind the wheel. From 'arrogant' BMW drivers through to 'dithering' OAPs, we seemingly can't help slapping such labels on our fellow drivers in heated moments. According to a controversial survey carried out by motors.co.uk, the number one biggest irritant on our roads is 'white van man' with 45% of those polled citing the much-maligned van driver as the biggest source of frustration.
- “Too much to do; too little time to do it in”
Congestion and deadlines can lead to frustration and anger spilling out behind the wheel. Whether too many meetings have been planned for a single day or not enough time has been planned for the trips between them, a packed schedule can cause someone to blow their top at the smallest incident.
How transport managers can help
The real concern is how to head off road rage erupting across your own fleet. Here are some stress-busting tips to help your drivers stay level-headed and in control:
- Check that schedules are not too busy; be realistic and have contingency plans in place.
- Ensure that drivers have hands-free communications available so they can call with updates about their progress without using their mobile at the wheel or needing to pull over to make a call.
- Plan routes for the drivers and give them sat navs. That might sound bleedin' obvious but to many managers, it appears it isn't – a survey by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles revealed that 81% of drivers aren't given sat navs and only 23% of van fleet operators plan routes for their drivers.
- Don't apply too much pressure if a driver is running late; sometimes a perfectly-planned journey can go pear-shaped due to extreme congestion or other unforeseen circumstances that are beyond a driver's control, no matter how early they set off.
- Invest in telematics systems that let you monitor a driver, so you can immediately spot if they are struggling in, say, congestion. Such systems also allow you to offer alternative routing on the fly. Be their wingman.
- Give them company fuel cards; the process for finding and paying for fuel is dramatically simplified and all receipts are e-mailed directly to you, meaning less paperwork and hassle for everyone.
- Offer training to your drivers; increased confidence and pragmatism behind the wheel means clearer, more logical thinking – and less chance of 'temper tantrums'.
- If the driver is prone to road rage and refuses to deal with the issue, then give them their marching orders. The risk of the company being found liable if something goes wrong is simply not worth it.
For more ideas on managing your drivers, please download our eGuide ‘Keep an eye on your heavy footed drivers: without a heavy hand’
Guest Post: James Knight is the fuel management consultant of The Fuelcard Company, the largest commercial reseller of company fuel cards in the UK. You can read more on his expertise in fuel control and solutions on vehicle maintenance by reading Fuel Cards Blog here. You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter.