Are all your drivers fit to drive, every time they drive for work? How are you managing driver health in your organisation?
How do you manage fitness to drive?
Driver health is an essential part of their fitness to drive – and as such, managing driver health is an essential part of the fleet operator’s duty of care. The Van Driver Toolkit provides some excellent and detailed advice to fleet and commercial vehicle operators about key issues such as: fatigue, mental health and drug driving. And for good reason – these three things contribute significantly to driver deaths.
Fatigue causes one in five collisions. Many adults in the UK admit to sleeping for only four to five hours a night – and one week of that level of sleep impairs performance as much as being drunk.
No fleet manager would knowingly allow a drunk driver behind the wheel. Yet every day tired drivers are allowed to leave depots and workplaces in fleet vehicles.
Avoid fatigue in drivers by:
- Examining working schedules
- Educating drivers about the need for sleep
- Creating a culture in which people can admit to being too tired to drive
According to the Department of Transport’s official statistics for 2021, drugs were detected in 20% of all deceased drivers, and 34% of those for which toxicology information was available. This compares to 11% and 20% respectively in 2014.
Many fleets now conduct random drug tests among driving staff and for good reason. Drug impairment is a major contributor to road deaths and injuries – and if a fleet has not taken reasonable steps to ensure that their drivers are free from impairment, they could be found culpable in the event of injury or death.
The penalties for drug driving are substantial. Drivers should be reminded that even prescription drugs can impair driving ability – they should always check with their doctor or pharmacist and inform their employer if their prescription could compromise their safety.
Unlike alcohol, there is no ‘allowable’ level of illegal drugs a driver can have in their system. And many drugs stay in the human body for several days or even weeks. This makes their impairment effect unpredictable – and makes them detectable long after the driver may believe themselves to be ‘in the clear’. Watch the video – The increasing problem of drug driving at work.
Managing Driver Health
Mental health is a major concern in the UK. One man kills himself every two hours. That’s a horrifying statistic. Untreated mental health issues, such as depression, can affect judgement and decision-making, which can be dangerous when driving. Poor mental and emotional well-being is also linked to other dangerous conditions such as insomnia.
Although much has been done to bring a new level of openness to the concepts of mental and emotional health, many people will still:
– Find it difficult to admit problems
– Underestimate the impact poor mental health has on their safety and work performance
– Not seek professional help
A caring, and appropriately trained management team can create a culture in which people can admit to problems, seek help and be allocated appropriate support and, if necessary, alternative work while they receive help.
The National Highway’s Van Driver Toolkit has useful resources on all of these driver well-being issues, as well as a comprehensive look at vehicle and driver safety.