One in three drivers report feeling stressed behind the wheel leaving them prone to making irrational decisions and suffering road rage. Employers should therefore be thinking about their drivers’ welfare and wellbeing whilst they are driving for work.

Behavioural factors that can affect employees driving could be aggression, attitude to risk, driving excitement, ineffective coping strategy, fatigue, stress and work schedules.

If drivers and their employers are aware of the factors that may pose a risk, the chance of an incident whilst driving is dramatically reduced.

Awareness and education is key

The first step to tackling driver behavioural issues is to identify the risks.

Risk profiling business drivers (both company vehicle and grey fleet drivers) will help to identify what risks are posed by drivers. A range of driver assessment tools are available on the market. Some create a high level risk profile of the driver focusing on various principles of safe driving such as rules of the road, hazard perception and awareness, reaction test, safe distance following and customers own safe driving policy.

Other on-line driver risk assessments go into more depth and with a psychometric assessment analysing a number of critical behavioural factors including aggression, work related risk, driving excitement, ineffective coping strategies and susceptibility to fatigue.

Many companies have telematics systems in their vehicles producing data on driver driving styles and highlighting episodes that can also build up a risk-profile for the driver. Telematics can record journey times, mileage and driving styles so businesses can identify issues and tailor training to reduce risks. Once trained companies can use telematics to ‘supervise’ and support the driver where necessary.

Once risk has been identified a programme of behavioural change can be introduced.

Behavioural change interventions can address the issues identified and help to reduce risks, but what form do these interventions take?

Incorporating the topic of driving for work into health and wellbeing days is a good way of raising awareness of the effects that certain behavioural factors and life-style choices can have on driving and the increased risk posed to the employee and the business.

Workshops, including factors that affect personal performance, can educate drivers about the effects of drugs and alcohol on driving (even prescribed and over the counter drugs). Health issues can affect driving performance too – fatigue and sleep apnoea being two common issues. The effects of stress, regardless of the root cause, can leave drivers prone to make irrational decisions and suffer road rage.

General driver safety awareness workshops can serve as a useful refresher of the rules of the road – with drivers quite often commenting it is scary how much they had forgotten. Workshops can be tailored to specific issues highlighted by the risk assessment and telematics data such as speed management.

For drivers identified as posing a high risk to themselves and the business or those suffering from anxiety, on-road driver coaching can prove highly effective and tailored to individual issues and needs.

With the ever-advancing pace of technology, driver education is becoming more immersive. Companies can now access on-line e-learning modules, virtual reality and even driving simulators to educate their employees who drive for work.

Businesses can gain tangible business benefits from implementing a behavioural change programme for their drivers including:

  • Better informed drivers
  • Lower incident rate
  • Reduced insurance premiums
  • Less stressed drivers/employees
  • Less wear and tear and improved fuel consumption
  • Company reputation

The key to all of this is having a continuous cycle of compliance – not a one-off box ticking exercise.

Our thanks to Andy Wheeler, Business Development Director of TTC DriverProtect for this article
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