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Driving safety home

Every year, road crashes kill 1.3 million people and injure 50 million around the world. Shell staff and contractors drive over a billion kilometres a year delivering products and materials. Following simple safety rules can help avoid incidents – and Shell is working to raise awareness of this in the wider community.

In the Kuala Belait region of Brunei, Ikbar Omar and his friends were out riding their motorbikes. No one in the group was wearing a helmet. When one of the group crashed into a car, he did not survive.

“This event drastically changed my life,” says Ikbar.  “I was there at his funeral with his family.”

Ikbar Omar explains how the Brunei Tell-a-friend programme can help improve road safety

Ikbar Omar explains how the Brunei Tell-a-friend programme can help improve road safety

Ikbar wanted to help prevent similar tragedies from happening again. He was working for a Shell supplier when he was introduced to a Shell programme that encourages staff and contractors to share important road safety rules. These include wearing a seat belt, respecting speed limits and not using a phone while driving. If anyone working for Shell breaks the rules, they could lose their job.

Greater awareness of driving risks among employees and how to reduce these leads to safer behaviour: when people ride motorcycles on their own time, for example, they are more likely to wear helmets.

Staff and contractors received cards with 10 slots to complete with the names of their friends and family and advice on how to get the road safety message across with examples. Ikbar became so heavily involved that he became the programme’s deputy chairman.

“I’ve noticed a change in people’s attitude,” he says. “In the past they thought wearing a seat belt was uncomfortable – now they buckle up.”  Since its launch by Shell in Brunei in 2008, more than 70 organisations, including private companies, schools and the police, have also adopted the programme, called Brunei Tell-a-friend.

The same direction

Tell-a-friend is one example of Shell’s work to improve road safety worldwide in its operations. Our approach often combines education with technology. At the Pearl GTL project in Qatar, for example, on-board computer systems monitor driver behaviour. Drivers are tracked through personalised keyring chips. If they break the rules, they could face dismissal.

“The systems are designed to make sure drivers respect speed limits,” says Bill Shand, Senior Logistics Health, Safety and Environment Supervisor at Pearl GTL. “But we have seen that improved driver behaviour can also save on tyre wear and fuel.”

Shell in Indonesia launched an initiative to improve road safety training among schoolchildren and t

Shell in Indonesia launched an initiative to improve road safety training among schoolchildren and teachers

At Pearl Shell also provides compulsory driver training, and offers this to spouses. Many accept.

Shell adapts its methods to suit different regions. In some, the number of road incidents is high. In Brazil, for example, Shell has set up checkpoints for staff to check if long-distance drivers are still alert and provide them with a place to rest if needed. It also works with hauliers to develop a joint approach to road safety, and it monitors and rewards drivers for good behaviour.

In many regions Shell works with local government and develops road safety awareness programmes for use in schools. Shell in Indonesia, for example, launched an initiative to improve road safety training among schoolchildren and teachers. One in five road accident victims in Indonesia are aged between 5 and 12.

Since 2008 the number of road safety incidents among Shell staff and contractors worldwide has fallen by 25%.

Safety in numbers

The overall safety goal Shell has set worldwide is to have zero injuries and fatalities. Our rules are helping to improve driver behaviour and reduce incidents. We also work with other companies to help set standards for the transport industry and influence governments to tighten road safety rules; build road infrastructures; raise vehicle safety standards; and improve better drivers education.

“Some companies don’t understand how we can run our business with a ban on mobile phone use while driving,” says Mike Watson, Shell’s Global Manager Road Safety. “We are happy to show them.” In 2010 Shell was invited to attend a US Department of Transportation conference on road safety and share its global best practices with US government officials.

As chair of the Global Road Safety Partnership, Shell works with international agencies, companies and governments on practical projects to reduce road accidents. The partnership launched an initiative to improve road safety in targeted developing countries, with support from Shell and other companies.

The Decade of Action in Road Safety was launched by the UN General Assembly in May 2011. Without immediate action road fatalities will become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030, according to the UN. This would result in around 2.4 million fatalities each year.  The aim of the UN decade is to lower the number of road fatalities worldwide. “We now expect even greater interest in our road safety programmes,” says Mike.

In Brunei, the Tell-a-Friend team plans to introduce the programme to twice as many organisations. “The message has spread to many parts of the country,” says Ikbar. “But we still have a long way to go.”