I’ve been driving gas tankers for Air Products for six years and my attitude to health and safety has really changed during that time. I’ve always seen safety as a key part of the job but previously it was just that, ‘part of the job’. If something unsafe happened, it just happened, and I moved on.
With 25 years of experience under my belt, I’d say I’m a confident and experienced driver, but the reality is that we are all human – everyone makes mistakes. Over the last few years, Air Products has installed a new safety system that has really opened my eyes to this. It’s made me realise that every incident, or potential incident, no matter how small, is an opportunity for me to develop as a driver.
This system is a constant reminder that we all have something to learn, and that you’re never too old or experienced as a driver to stop adapting and improving.
We’ve introduced a telematics system into all our UK tankers. The system is integrated with the vehicle’s on-board computer, with a forward-facing in vehicle camera. The two elements work together to give drivers a complete overview of our journeys and how our driving can be improved.
The telematics system tracks things like over-revving, idling and harsh braking as well as overall speed and efficiency, whereas the camera is in place to capture specific incidents. The camera starts recording automatically when it’s triggered by the trailer roll stability system or the G-force sensor, but I can also switch it on manually if I feel unsafe or at risk.
It would be easy to feel ‘watched’ with cameras in place, but I’ve never really seen it like that. It’s reassuring to know that, if anything happens, I will have the footage to show the detail and specifics. It’s also a very positive, two-way learning process. We all have an assigned coach who can view our camera footage and discuss it with us – the focus is always on what could be improved rather than what actually happened. There’s a great anonymous league table too, with a traffic light system that allows us to compare our safety and efficiency performance with other drivers – nothing like a bit of healthy competition!
One of the most important elements for me is the fact that, as a driver, I can influence the system and process. Initiatives from head office are all very well, but we are the ones out on the road every day and we arguably have the greatest insight into what could help, and what might not. The new blindside cameras and monitors are brilliant for example, and so is the automatic braking system; whereas cameras that were triggered on the passenger side when we indicated right were just a distraction. I was able to feed that back and the set-up has been changed as a result.
Do I drive differently now? Definitely. I drive a lot more defensively and assume that all other road users are a potential risk. I’ve also cut my speed.
It’s easy to get complacent when it comes to safe driving, to feel like you know it all, and don’t pose a risk. This system is a constant reminder that we all have something to learn, and that you’re never too old or experienced as a driver to stop adapting and improving.