Driving for work is a dangerous occupation. And there are certain factors which can exacerbate this further and create additional risk in the workplace.
Here we look at tiredness and fatigue, distracted driving and stress and the risks these can present to drivers. We also consider how, as an employer, you can look to minimise these risks and put in place policies and procedures to fulfil your obligations to your drivers.
The importance of managing risks to driver behaviour in the workplace
Road safety and risk management should be high up the agenda of any business who employs people to drive for a living. Not least because you have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for people who drive for a living. As well as needing to fulfil legal and regulatory obligations such as those set out by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 amongst others.
Ensuring the safety of your employees is crucial. As a business you also need to be able to demonstrate that you have looked to manage the health and safety of your employees or taken steps to minimise risk. If you are not able to do so, your business or responsible individuals can face prosecution, fines or imprisonment if one of your drivers is involved in a serious incident.
Demonstrating a thorough approach to risk management can also be of benefit when it comes to getting insurance for your business. Insurers are increasingly demanding more evidence of how businesses manage risk – the more evidence that you can provide which details that you take risk management seriously then the better chance your broker will have of presenting your business in a way which puts you in the best position to gain the right insurance solution for your business.
Tiredness and Fatigue
Driver risks linked to tiredness and fatigue
Driving when tired has been the focus of many road safety campaigns due to the risks it presents. Not just the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. But also, the knock-on impacts on the driver’s ability to concentrate, their awareness, decision making processes, reaction times, and their attitude.
Fatigue is therefore a big risk to those that drive for work. In fact, Brake state that In work drivers are particularly at risk from tiredness with 4 in 10 tiredness related crashes involving someone driving a commercial vehicle. And research suggests that driving tired can be as dangerous as drink driving.
Managing the risks of tiredness and fatigue
As someone who employs people to drive for a living you have a duty of care to your employees and must ensure drivers operate in line with health and safety rules as well as legal limits.
- Ensure commercial vehicle drivers adhere to driver hour limits such as those for HGV drivers
- Follow your obligations as an employer when it comes to drivers’ hours – such as keeping drivers’ hours records, ensure employees are adequately trained on the rules
- Set realistic schedules which do not encourage drivers to go beyond working time limits
- Ensure drivers keep up to date with medical assessments
- Inform drivers of the dangers of drug driving – some prescription medications can have side effects including fatigue
Read this road safety guide for more information on understanding driver fatigue.
Driver risks linked to distraction
There are many things which can lead to distraction when driving
- Eating and drinking
- Mobile phone use
- Technology use – sat navs, infotainment systems, headphones etc
- Focusing on other road users, something of interest or pedestrians instead of the road
Driving when distracted presents a wide range of risks such as paying less attention to the environment around you, taking longer to detect hazards, difficulty controlling speed, distance to driver in front and lane position.
Managing the risks of distracted driving
Again, as an employer you need to manage your responsibility to put in place all ‘reasonably practicable’ safety measures to protect your employees and those they share the road with.
Some steps you can look to take as an employer include:
- Ensuring your drivers are aware of the risks of distracted driving and have received training in what can cause distraction and how to minimise the risks
- Making sure you have robust driving for work policies and procedures in place which set out rules, legislation, penalties and areas of responsibility in relation to driving for work
- Having a specific policy relating to mobile phone and technology usage in place as this is a major cause of distracted driving. Using handheld mobile devices when driving is illegal.
- Ensuring drivers plan routes in advance to prevent navigating becoming a distraction
Stress and Aggression
Driver risks linked to stress and aggression
New research from Brake has shown that driver stress and anger when driving has increased since the start of the first national lockdown in March 2020, with negative moods having a detrimental impact on driving behaviour.
Driving when stressed or angry can lead to more aggressive driver behaviours such as speeding, harsh braking and reduced focus on the task of driving. Stress and anger may also lead to distraction, affecting factors such as reaction times and decision making or judgement processes.
Managing the risks of stress and aggression on driver behaviour
There are a number of steps you can take to look after employee wellbeing such as;
- Work to minimise stress caused by the workplace. For example, unrealistic deadlines or schedules can create stress and time pressured environments for drivers to work within. Ensure that drivers are not unduly challenged by their workload and that pressure is not exacerbated by unrealistic targets
- Plan driving schedules to ensure drivers know what is expected of them and when
- Have a supportive working environment whereby employees feel able to approach someone for help if they experience stress in the workplace
- Ensure that mental and physical health and well-being are discussed and talked about in the workplace and that value is placed upon these areas.
At Anthony Jones we view risk management as a vital part of the service that we provide. That is why we work closely with DAC Beachcroft, our legal partner to provide a legal representation in the event of an incident. And with Cardinus who are a global risk and safety partner for Fleet Risk Management services. For more information on how we can help you and your fleet if you are reviewing your commercial motor insurance at this time do get in touch with us on 020 8290 9099 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.