Experienced fleet manager Paul Holmes has given a new meaning to American entrepreneur Victor Kiam’s famous phrase by becoming a director of PeoplePanels, a division of Dawes Highway Safety Ltd.
Mr Kiam used the phrase “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company” in TV advertising for Remington, and now entrepreneur Mr Holmes is backing the business that has developed innovative engineering solutions for commercial vehicles to protect vulnerable road users from death and injury.
Award-winning Dawes Highway Safety’s PeoplePanel and DawesGuard prevent vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians from being crushed under the wheels of commercial vehicles.
The technology, which is accredited by both the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) and Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS), has already been adopted by safety-focused fleets that include BP McKeefry, Keltbray, Mick George and Travis Perkins.
What’s more, fleets fitting the innovative technology are also reaping fuel economy savings as the side panels reduce drag under a truck and trailer.
Indeed, Dawes Highway Safety calculates that over the typical seven-year life of a large goods vehicle the cost of a pair of panels - one for each side of the vehicle - would be less than £1 per week.
Hampshire-headquartered Dawes Highway Safety was founded by former Metropolitan Police motorcycle sergeant and now managing director James Dawes, and Mr Holmes has joined the company as commercial director.
A former award-winning fleet manager at two of Britain’s biggest organisations - Centrica-owned British Gas and the AA and with a near-40-year fleet industry career behind him, Mr Holmes said: “The technology developed by Dawes Highway Safety is the simplest and most effective road safety solution that I’ve seen during my fleet industry career.
“During my many years as a fleet manager I saw numerous technological developments with their backers often making ridiculous claims about their effectiveness. The beauty of the PeoplePanels and DawesGuard is in their simplicity, cost, ease of fitment and proven ability, which is why I’m backing the business.
“Two panels for a vehicle operating over an average seven-year life cycle cost less than £1 a week. The question for fleet and transport managers is can they afford not to fit the technology?”
The Department for Transport’s 2015 data ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain’ - the most recent year available - highlights that casualty and fatality rates per billion passenger miles for vulnerable road users were: motorcyclists 6,676 casualties per billion miles travelled; cyclists 5,824 casualties per billion miles cycled; and pedestrians 2,108 casualties per billion miles walked. Those figures compare with a car occupant casualty rate of 273 per billion miles driven with the figures significantly lower for bus and commercial vehicle occupants.
As commercial director, Mr Holmes will be promoting the PeoplePanels and DawesGuard to a wide range of businesses operating commercial vehicles ranging from 3.5-tonne vehicles to four-wheel tippers and articulated lorries with trailers.
Mr Holmes, who will continue in his roles as a director of independent fleet consultancy FMF (Fleet Managers’ Friend), which he launched nearly three years ago, and as a director of the recently launched Horizon Vehicle Management, added: “Many businesses are fitting cameras to their vehicles but the video recording will only tell a fleet manager that a driver has run over a person, the PeoplePanels and DawesGuard will prevent a vulnerable road user from falling under the wheels of a vehicle and potentially save their life.”
Mr Dawes, who founded Dawes Highway Safety in 2015 and during his police career witnessed numerous road traffic crashes seeing first-hand the impact and devastation such incidents can have on all involved, said: “Paul’s arrival in the business will take the company to a new level in terms of exploiting opportunities in the commercial vehicle fleet market.
“We are in discussions with numerous fleets - many household names - about fitting the PeoplePanel and DawesGuard to their vehicles. Additionally we hope to shortly announce a tie-up with a major insurance broker that could potentially lead to premium reductions for fleets that fit the technology to their commercial vehicles.”
Research by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory)* into safer lorries in London concluded that the fitting of flat panel side guards - intended to fill the gap between the front and rear axles of vehicles to prevent people from being run over by a vehicle’s rear wheels - would reduce fatalities and serious injury among pedestrians and cyclists.
Additionally, the fitting of the Dawes Highway Safety side panels is proven to reduce drag under a truck and trailer thus delivering MPG savings to fleets and therefore a further return on investment.
Independent research** also highlights that side panels reduce vehicle drag thus delivering fuel savings of “the order of 3-7%”. An average 40-tonne articulated lorry, driving 70,000 miles a year, would save £1,440 every year if a 3% fuel saving was achieved. As a result, Dawes Highway Safety says that if such a fuel saving was achieved a set of PeoplePanels could pay for themselves in four months.