Case Study

A business built on trust and great drivers

47%

decrease in collisions

84%

fewer drivers on the road without seatbelts

71%

reduction in distracted driving events

Alfa Travel – A business built on trust and great drivers

Alfa Travel is part of the Alfa Leisureplex Group. Originally a family-run hotel group, Alfa launched its coach travel business in 1997 and is currently the UK’s only employee-owned travel business.

Alfa Travel operates a fleet of 48 Mercedes luxury coaches, with the company’s drivers also functioning as tour guides and overall representatives. Drivers develop relationships with clients, and many customers ask to rebook with their regular driver. Customers are collected from local pickup points around the UK and taken to an interchange. From there, they transfer to a coach for transport to their final destination, most of which are seaside hotels around the UK owned by Alfa Leisureplex.

Paul Bull, Alfa Travel’s Operations Director, joined the business in 2016. He quickly realised that, while Alfa Travel’s safety record was solid, there was an opportunity to make it an even higher priority and focus for the organisation. “One of our challenges is that it is extremely difficult to brief drivers face to face as they’re on tour all the time and they don’t return to a depot,” Bull says. “We needed a solution that would work for us remotely.”

On introducing the Lytx® Driver Safety Programme across its fleet in February 2018, Alfa Travel identified issues affecting safety, including seatbelt non- compliance, drivers maintaining insufficient distance from other vehicles and distracted behaviour. The resulting coaching programme produced outstanding results.

Taking vital steps toward a stronger safety culture

Client departure and return days are very long for Alfa’s drivers, who serve both the initial feeder routes and then drive customers to their ultimate destinations. They spend the rest of their time at the hotel, where they take their rest days, and also drive and guide customers on excursions. Perhaps one day per week the driver will spend a night at home. Drivers work year-round, with their main holidays taken during January.

Bull identified patterns in Alfa’s safety incidents. While there were no serious collisions, in 2017 the organisation experienced many incidents where responsibility and liability were disputed. At that time, Alfa had no way to know objectively what happened or to gather information to help improve safety in the future.

The decision to adopt Lytx was straightforward. Bull met the Lytx team at the UK Coach Show in October 2017. Having chatted with colleagues at other operators, he learned that Lytx was highly regarded.

With only a short window, in January and February, during which the solution could be installed and when drivers could be briefed together, Bull needed to move quickly. A review of the alternatives did nothing to dissuade him that Lytx was the right system. He dispensed with a trial and moved immediately to get the technology installed, adapt Alfa’s operations and secure the trust and cooperation of his drivers.

The fleet was fitted with Lytx DriveCam® Event Recorders, and uses the forward-facing and internal cameras to capture video when an event is triggered. Lytx’s expert team reviews the footage and escalates clips that warrant attention to Alfa Travel’s traffic managers.

As with most new technology, persuading people to work with it can be a big challenge. Bull briefed all 48 of Alfa’s drivers at the organisation’s annual seminar in February 2018 and sought to understand possible concerns. “I think it was important briefing them all together upfront,” Bull says.

“Their biggest worry was that we could tap into it at any time and see what they were up to,” Bull says. “Once we were able to explain to them that it was incident related and we had no way of accessing the system, they were okay and they’re now comfortable with it and they appreciate the benefits.”

Operationally there were changes. The two traffic managers now share responsibility, each overseeing half of the drivers. In the event of an incident, they review the video, forward their notes to the driver along with the video and then call to discuss it. Should a more serious incident occur, they would travel to meet the driver. As of June 2019, no incidents have warranted such a meeting.

At the end of the year, each driver has a face-to-face performance review, and the Lytx performance history forms part of that discussion.

Outstanding results

One surprise was the number of drivers found not to be wearing their seatbelts. “That was quite a shock to us, really,” Bull says. “Once we identified the situation and discussed it with the drivers and understood their perspective, we were able to address it directly, and our instances of seatbelt non-compliance have decreased by 84 percent.”

In early 2019, Alfa introduced an incentive programme to reward safe driving. “Our traffic managers know our drivers, and as such, they take a personalised coaching approach, addressing each driver’s unique skills and any challenges they may have.” Alfa drivers know the company philosophy is to use video as a coaching tool and not for disciplinary purposes. Bull has seen the positive impact of this approach.

“When we finished last year, we identified four drivers with higher risk profiles. Because of the video, we were able to identify areas that warranted attention and provide specific training designed to help them improve.”

Alfa’s traffic managers have also noticed the change. “They were initially concerned that it might add to their already busy workloads, but they came around to seeing the programme’s many advantages, and how it actually helped give them more time to focus on drivers because they were spending less time on driver recruitment.” Alfa saw a sharp 75 percent year-on-year reduction in driver turnover. He believes the high focus on safety and the introduction of the Lytx Safety Programme with their own incentive scheme have contributed to that improvement. “It’s a virtuous circle,” says Bull.

Conclusion

Paul Bull is impressed with Lytx’s service and Alfa results. He stresses it is not simply about reducing incidents but about prevention and risk management.

“Whether it’s a warehouse or retail environment or construction site, you manage safety by monitoring your near misses and unsafe acts,” he says. “Without video you can’t do that with road risk because you’ve got no way of picking up the feedback. But you can with this system.”

“Lytx gives us a way to view and understand near misses. They help us know what has happened and build programmes to help prevent incidents and change driver behaviour.”

“In terms of reputation and customer trust, if you had a very serious collision and your company name is all down the side of the coach, it would be very hard to recover from. Eventually, I think all fleet vehicles will be using video telematics to help improve their safety and help protect their brand reputation.”

“The key thing is getting everyone involved from the beginning and getting them to understand it’s about safety; their own safety as much as anybody else’s including the customers’.”

Problem

  • Not knowing who owns responsibility for incident (Alfa driver or other driver)
  • No way to identify or learn from near misses
  • Difficulty coaching in a timely manner when drivers do not return to a depot

Results

  • Videos provide valuable context and definitive account of events
  • Promotes and supports Alfa Travel’s safety culture—a testament to how serious Alfa is about safety
  • Provides information to help identify drivers who are doing their job correctly and drivers who need additional coaching

Solution

  • Enable remote viewing of videos via mobile device
  • Provide coaching videos to drivers
  • Lytx enables near real-time access to event videos*

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