Driving success

26 July 2023

There was a new category at this year's Safety & Health Excellence Awards. Becky Hadley takes a look at the winner, those commended, and why National Highways stepped in to create the Best Driver Risk Management Performance award.

THIS YEAR'S Safety & Health Excellence Awards had a brand-new category: Best Driver Risk Management Performance, which was sponsored by National Highways, through its Driving for Better Business programme.

Jeremy Philips is the head of road user safety at National Highways. He says, “Driving for work is one of the highest-risk activities that many employees undertake, whether they drive a commercial vehicle, a company car or make occasional work journeys in their own vehicle. As the gig economy continues to grow, this also means those who ride for work as well as those who drive.

“Through this award, we wanted to recognise employers who have taken a proactive, comprehensive, and consistent approach to the management of their work-related road risk. Safer drivers are involved in fewer incidents, cause less damage, less wear and tear on company vehicles and use less fuel, which is currently a critical issue for many organisations. As well as a significant reduction in on-road incidents, award submissions had to demonstrate a range of other business benefits such as reductions in fleet insurance costs, maintenance costs, fuel spend and emissions. 

“Road Safety is National Highways’ top priority, and we are committed to reducing harm on the network.” 

On the night, Heineken UK scooped the award. The drinks brand – with top names such as Birra Moretti, Bulmers Amstel and Red Stripe among others – has 350 leased passenger cars used by remote sales employees to carry out customer visits throughout the country, each typically covering around 18,000 miles.

The company introduced a new online driver risk management tool which increased compliance from 58% to 97%. Good practice policies and procedures, along with a comprehensive ‘glove box guide’ issued to all drivers contributed to a reduction of 23% in speeding offences and a 7% reduction in collisions over the year, despite overall mileage increasing by 177% as business levels returned to normal after the Covid lockdowns. 

The business benefits have been equally impressive with an 8% reduction in fleet insurance premium and a 25% reduction in end-of-term vehicle damage costs from the leasing company – all of which contributed to a total reduction in annual fleet operating costs of almost £500,000.

Reka Nagy, Workspace and Safety Partner at Heineken UK says, “Everyone has the right to safety regardless of their workplace or the task they undertake. Driving at work poses a high risk for our field base colleagues. Day in and day out an almost ‘routine task’ can change the life of many and therefore we need to go beyond simple compliance to protect our colleagues and those around them. We strive for continuous improvement through driver behaviour programs, driver engagement and user-friendly solutions so we can create a safe place to be.”

Commenting on the award, Driving for Better Business Campaigns Manager, Simon Turner says, “We were impressed by Heineken’s clear focus on driver safety and the commitment from senior management. National Highways wants to broaden awareness of the importance of managing work-related road risk with employers, and specifically health and safety professionals. 

“Driving for work not only represents one of the highest-risk activities that most employees undertake but is also a significant cost to the business. Our programme, which is entirely free to access, shares many examples of good practice along with a library of free resources to help employers gain peace of mind that they are legally compliant, are regarded as better places to work, and perform at a higher level of efficiency than those that don’t.”

Highly commended

Clean Linen Services received a Highly commended award from the judges. It is one of the UK’s leading laundry companies, providing linen and workwear wash and rental service from seven sites. It has more than 1121 employees and services sectors such as hospitality, hotels, restaurant, catering, food manufacturing, automotive, engineering, and pharmaceutical. Its transport teams go to great lengths to strengthen its focus on compliance and to demonstrate that overall road safety is paramount.

CLEAN Linen & Workwear is part of Alsco, a multinational laundry specialist with a presence in 14 countries. It rents clean linen and workwear to hotels, restaurants, and other venues, collecting the used dirty textiles and leaving fresh product in its place.

Daniel Lee, transport safety and training manager at CLEAN Linen & Workwear says, “We want drivers to be as safe as possible from the moment they join and throughout their careers with us. You can never predict what’s going to happen out on the road because there are so many factors. For us, it's about trying to reduce the risk we can control, and to have drivers with as low a risk-rating as possible, in order to make them safer.”

CLEAN runs 100+ commercial vehicles – from 3.5 tonnes to articulated HGVs. Most are rigid vehicles working in urban centres. Clean employs 205 drivers. Hotel linen is high volume and dispatched in cages on large vehicles, while the lighter workwear goes out on the 3.5 tonne vehicles.

A recent safety campaign was GOAL – Get Out And Look to address low speed manoeuvring collisions. Although vehicles have 360 degree cameras, drivers are encouraged to get out, checking around the vehicle before moving.

CLEAN does not put its drivers under time pressure. “If they are late for a delivery, then so be it,” says Daniel. “Sometimes that is unavoidable and we have a customer services department to deal with it. We trust them to get there safely, and we do not contact them when they are driving. Our drivers do not even have access to Bluetooth while driving.

"If a colleague urgently needs to speak to drivers, they wait until the telematics shows them to be parked at a customer site.”

These other entries gained recognition from the award judges:​

Commended - FM Conway is a UK-based civil engineering contractor specialising in highways and other infrastructure work. Upon achieving ISO39001 certification, the company received a 10% insurance premium reduction (£56,000). This reduction continued, year-on-year, representing savings of approximately £350K since the system was introduced. The system has now been in place for 10 years and savings are evident on many levels.

Commended - TES 2000 is a railway infrastructure and construction company, undertaking a range of services for Network Rail such as track renewal and maintenance.

The company works collaboratively with clients and industry safety bodies to develop innovative approaches that will enhance safety performance and strengthen the overall safety culture providing proactive fleet management support to our frontline drivers and grey fleet operators. 

National Highways and Driving for Better Business is supporting the Best Driver Risk Management Performance award for 2024.

Judges will be looking for employers who have addressed their work-related road risk and can demonstrate significant business benefits, such as reductions in fleet insurance costs, maintenance costs, fuel spend and emissions. 

Becky Hadley is communication adviser for Driving for Better Business. For more information, visit