Unrealistic drivetimes threaten road safety

by David Cockrell

The price of poor planning could be higher than the commercial cost  

  • 42% of drivers / riders interviewed said they had been involved in a collision where their vehicle had been damaged
  • Nearly half of survey respondents agreed that “time pressure … can make you travel over the speed limit”
  • 30% agreed that they had driven or ridden through a red light when they’ve been under pressure

A recent report by the UCL Centre for Transport Studies The emerging issues for management of occupational road risk in a changing economy, highlights the risk of pressure on couriers and delivery drivers to maintain drop rate and hit delivery windows. Speeding to meet targets, tiredness from overwork and distraction from mobile phone notifications are all factors that cause near misses and accidents on the road.

What’s a realistic productivity target?

Every commercial business needs to set targets and measure compliance, to maximise productivity. But delivery workers are at the mercy of external factors, including highway restrictions and limits, traffic flow, rush hours, congestion and parking availability. Because of these variables, it’s unrealistic and unfair to set a fixed target for drops per hour or time per mile.

UCL’s report focuses on gig workers, driving and biking freelance. But the same pressures apply to couriers on payroll and contract. Because performance bonuses or penalties may be applied depending on how well they meet targets, it’s understandable that drivers could be tempted to run lights, exceed the speed limit or cut corners to fit in their deliveries when traffic and road conditions are against them.

Accurate drivetime planning is key

One way that responsible delivery fleet managers and distribution businesses can tackle the problem is by using more intelligent drivetime systems and tools. For parcel couriers, the report recommends: “An acceptable drop rate should be established by the company which takes into account the time it takes to travel to the destinations within the speed limit and also the time it takes to perform administrative functions such as getting signatures and scanning/taking photographs of where the parcel has been left.”

Build in real-time info on road conditions and highways 

Leading solutions like CACI’s allmapdata drivetime products can provide this and more, for trustworthy and accurate drivetimes and routings. They integrate with road traffic information systems that update road conditions in real time. This includes fixed and temporary speed limits, roadworks, diversions and congestion, continually refreshed in real time.

With detailed and up-to-date information available, firms can provide realistic daily and hourly delivery itineraries for both permanent and freelance drivers. Using a mobile app that the driver can check at each drop point, they can change routings and timeframes to accommodate new traffic information and help drivers avoid congestion or to allow for unavoidable delays.

Integrating accurate drivetimes with a customer management system means customer service teams or apps can keep both commercial and consumer clients informed about delivery progress.

If you’d like more in-depth information about what each capability means in practice, download FAST TRACK TO THE PERFECT DRIVETIME