17 Apr 20

How COVID-19 is increasing fleet driver risk

Fleet drivers working through the COVID-19 lockdown are facing unprecedented risks due to anxiety and fatigue, according to a leading fleet safety expert.

The coronavirus has seen drivers making essential deliveries work longer hours and make more drops, said Simon Turner, campaigns manager, Driving for Better Business.

In addition, police forces have recorded a significant increase in speeding events since traffic volumes started to fall.

No change to duty of care

“Despite any changes in requirements, the responsibility to ensure all your drivers and vehicles are fit and safe to be on the road has not changed,” said Turner. “It is essential to reinforce to any drivers you have that are still operating that driving standards need to be maintained thoroughly at the current time.”

With grocery, home delivery and health service supplies operating around the clock, drivers are vulnerable to fatigue, which increases their road risk.

“Many drivers are operating over or above their usual capacity in order to meet the increased demand,” said Turner.

Driver checks and policies

He urged fleet managers to be sensitive to this heightened danger, and to make sure that any temporary drivers still face the appropriate driver eligibility checks, undergo a proper induction process, “and that they understand driver policies and all the standards you expect of them as they go about their work.”

Online training

RED Driver Training is using its e-learning platform to deliver online fleet driver training to support the increased demand for delivery drivers due to COVID-19. The training can be carried out at home, and provides an assessment of a driver’s skills, knowledge, history and attitude. RED then uses this profile to identify further e-modules tailored to each driver’s requirements in areas such as safety margins, fatigue, journey planning and even road signs.

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, said: “Now is not the time for businesses to cut corners. Customer service teams are under more pressure than ever, but that is no excuse for employers to send untrained drivers onto the road and neglect their duty of care. A comprehensive fleet driver training programme is vital to ensure drivers are safe and efficient.”

Fleet manager training

For heavy goods vehicle fleets, TTC Group has developed online fleet and driver risk management courses for fleet managers, as well as a ‘live’ half-day training course for drivers, which cover driver hours, distractions, health and well-being, safe loading, and speed and safety awareness.

Mental health

Finally, at Driving for Better Business, Turner also advised employers not to neglect the mental health of staff who may be working from home, or who may not be able to work at all in the current pandemic lockdown. In these circumstances, he said it is understandable that any employees may feel extreme anxiety about their job security, financial position and even family life, and he recommended anyone with concerns to contact CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserable).

Authored by: Jonathan Manning