Interviews
19 Jan 24

Europe’s LCV drivers worry about safety – and want more technology

LCV drivers worry most about road safety, traffic congestion and road infrastructure, in that order, a survey by Webfleet shows. It also reveals that what LCV drivers lack most and want most, is technology. “Fleet managers can empower their LCV drivers with digital tech to help them be safer and more efficient”, says Franck Leveque (pictured), Webfleet’s VP for Strategic Planning & Incubation.

Asking nearly 1,000 LCV drivers from seven key European markets (the Big Five, plus the Netherlands and Poland) what would make their job better, the top answer was: “increased road safety”, with particularly high scores in Italy (51%) and Germany (48%).  

Static or upward

While overall road fatalities in Europe have been trending down since 2019, the figures have remained static in some regions and countries, or have indeed gone up. No less than 42% of commercial fleets say they’re involved in up to five road collisions per year, so no wonder that road safety is high on the agenda. 

Congestion is an obvious headache for LCV drivers, who operate under strict time constraints. That’s why 68% name congestion as a “challenging” or even “extremely challenging” factor in their day-to-day. Again, the issue is more on drivers’ minds in Italy (80%), followed this time by France (77%). 

Digital tools exist that could help LCV drivers increase their safety and efficiency. But it turns out they have very limited access to those solutions. 

Levels of support

When presented with a range of common digital solutions, it turned out that most drivers had no access to them, whereas those who did, said they benefited greatly from them. Most drivers without access consistently wanted those benefits as well. 

For example, only 30% of LCV drivers use systems that estimate the time of their arrival in real time. Of those who do, 75% said it gives them a high or extremely high level of support. Of those who don’t, 69% would like to use the system as well. 

Another one: in-cab AI-powered cameras, which help drivers get an overview of complex traffic situations and risky driver behaviour and have an 80% approval rate, are used by only 22% of LCV drivers.

What Webfleet’s survey also shows, however, is that despite considerable room for improvement, job satisfaction among LCV drivers remains high, and that fully 48% of them says that “doing my work well” is the most important factor for them – and the most important factor overall.

We asked Mr Leveque for some additional insight into this survey and its results. 

Why did Webfleet organise this European Van Driver Survey? 

“As the leading fleet management provider in Europe, one of our goals is to support businesses and their professional drivers in getting their job done efficiently, safely and sustainably. To do that, we need to know about their work, the problems they encounter, and the support they actually need.” 

What makes the concerns of LCV drivers different from those of other motorists? 

“From our experience, we know road safety is high on the agenda for every road user, as is traffic congestion. The latter may be even more pressing for professional drivers, who have delivery times and work schedules to respect.”

“Also, within the LCV segment, there are different industries – from goods transport such as last mile delivery to professional services such as utilities, electricians, and so on. And it’s interesting to see that within this diverse range of job types, LCV drivers seem to be facing consistently similar challenges on the road.”

Why is that? 

“As the survey shows, road and traffic conditions are clearly common challenges for LCV drivers. This could indicate that roads are getting busier and this more unsafe for professional drivers – especially if we think about last mile delivery fleets.” 

“Data from ACEA shows that LCV numbers in Europe have grown much faster than cars, fuelled in large part by the growth of e-commerce. And yet, the survey also shows that job satisfaction remains high among LCV drivers, with the vast majority reporting that they are either satisfied or extremely satisfied with their job.”

Van drivers want technology to help them, but generally lack access to technology. Why?

“The survey shows most LCV drivers work without leading tech designed to increase road safety, such as professional navigation systems, driver coaching, or AI-enabled dashcams. Of a list of 10 potential digital solutions, more than 50% of drivers didn’t use even one. On average, just 33% of the drivers surveyed used any of those 10 solutions at all.”

“Yet the survey clearly shows LCV drivers are ready for a more digitised workflow. In the end, that is the responsibility of their fleets. Normally, businesses invest in tech that increases their efficiency and productivity. Ideally, drivers get a say in this. Investing in technology may seem expensive at first, especially for smaller fleets.” 

“That’s why there may be some resistance to looking into these solutions. This explains why, according to Frost & Sullivan, the penetration of telematics in the LCV segment in Europe stands at just 27.8%. This compared to 36% in the medium and heavy truck segment. In fact, we see that penetration is heavily correlated with fleet size: very little or no telematics in very small fleets, very high penetration in the largest ones.”

What’s the key message that LCV fleet managers should take away from this survey? 

“LCV drivers are deeply committed to excelling in their field, and take pride in getting the job done and pleasing the customer. But they face some common challenges across Europe, linked mainly to safety, congestion and infrastructure. You can empower your drivers with digital tech to help them be safer and more efficient. After all, you and your drivers want the same thing: more safety, less traffic, and happier customers.”
 
Image: Webfleet 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs
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