The distribution industry needs to focus on road safety now more than ever after Government figures showed an increase in deaths and injuries among cyclists, says Bob McLarty, transport manager at Keystone Distribution UK. The statistics show that overall road safety improved during the last year, but the total number of reported cycle casualties rose by three per cent, and the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured increased by two percent.
"We believe that the distribution industry as a whole needs to promote a greater understanding between cyclists as vulnerable road users and lorry drivers," explains Mr McLarty. "This is something we are working closely with the Freight Transport Association (FTA) on together we are shaping industry standards." The FTA is putting together guidance on how to tackle cycle safety and Keystone is at the forefront of this. "Keystone is championing road safety in the industry," says Gordon Telling, head of urban logistics at the FTA. "The company is actively engaged in road and cycle safety and sets industry standards for other logistics companies to aspire to. It is great to see the positive work they are doing." Road safety is at the centre of Keystone's distribution operations and it is achieved by intensive driver training and the use of the latest technology. "Road safety is my main focus," says Mr McLarty. "We are always looking for the next way to improve road safety, whether it is coming up with new ideas to engage our drivers, upgrading our vehicles or teaching school children how to be safe and be seen when crossing the road."
Visual and audible warnings
When Keystone updates its fleet this Spring the vehicles will be fitted with a number of improvements designed to increase the safety of all road users. New sensors will alert the driver if anything gets too close to the vehicle and there will also be an audible external warning informing cyclists that the vehicle is going to turn left. An extra indicator light will be fitted at the half way point on the HGV in case a cyclist has passed the rear light and is unable to see the front light. And cameras will be installed to eliminate blind spots. Future enhancements planned for the fleet include installing satellite navigation systems which are specifically designed for HGVs.
"At Keystone we go above and beyond the guidelines that are required of us," says Mr McLarty. "And while we believe that technology is important, we know that good driver training is essential for road safety. The high standards that we set have led to an accident rate well below the industry average and we are an industry leader in driver training." Before a driver is offered a job interview at Keystone they have to take a 90 minute driving test, if they are successful they will have three days training and their first three months will be assessed. There is a driver development and training programme, league tables with incentives to motivate drivers to perform at the best of their abilities and each year all drivers are re-assessed. "Combining driver training with technology to improve road safety is something that has worked well for us," says Mr McLarty. "We use telematics to monitor each driver so we can measure errors such as revving, speeding, fuel wastage and heavy braking. Some of our top drivers will drive for 9,000 minutes without a single error, we want all our divers to reach 1,000 minutes before making an error if they make more than one error in 150 minutes then we may take corrective action in the form of re-training to resolve the situation."