We want to help Fleet Managers and Health and Safety professionals use vehicle and driver data to improve driver and passenger safety. We’ve therefore taken a keen interest in the highly detailed data from the World Health Organization (WHO) which shows how there has been a considerable effort across most high income countries to improve driver safety on the roads in recent years. How has this been achieved?

Broadly speaking, driver safety is engineered through a mixture of safety controls, feedback channels that check those controls are working, and improvements to a driver’s awareness of their surroundings.

Controls include things like increased or more stringent regulations (for example relating to speeding, use of seat belts, and limiting consumption of alcohol), or physical mechanisms like speed bumps in residential areas.

Feedback channels include enforcement mechanisms like speed cameras or traffic police. Finally, increased driver awareness can be brought about through physical elements like roadside lighting, cats eyes and road signage, educational programmes and, increasingly, the use of technology.

The WHO data also show that in many middle and low income countries where public funding is limited, and where there is less enforcement of safety regulations, road safety lags behind. This is often the situation in frontier markets, which is where we’re currently focussing our efforts.

For instance Iraq, where many of our customers operate, is a particularly striking example. Road traffic deaths between 2000 and 2010 almost trebled, reaching an annual rate of rate of around 17 per 100,000 people (which can be compared with the corresponding value of 3.8 per 100,000 in the UK). Given the current, pressing security crisis in Iraq, it’s unlikely that the Iraqi government is in a position to invest time and resources in road safety measures.

The images below show the trends in road traffic deaths per 100,000 in the UK on the left and in Iraq to the right.

Trends in road traffic deaths

Source: Data collated by WHO on road safety for the UK and Iraq

We are working on several new telematics products, to help companies meet their duty of care both to their drivers, and to the societies in which they operate. Telematics products can help to enforce existing rules and can give managers a better awareness of the road system in which their drivers are operating. This is especially valuable in countries like Iraq.

In future blog posts we’ll be talking about how we’re doing this. If you’d like to hear more in the meantime, then please get in touch.