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Shaun Sadlier's blog - 24 November: Extreme delivery targets compromises safety

Date: 01 December 2016

If, like me, you're not an enthusiastic devotee of the retail experience, then the development of online home shopping has probably been something of a godsend to you. Especially at this time of year.

But it does have a downside - the extreme demands that are placed on home delivery fleets.

At Arval, our perception is that this issue grows every Christmas as shopping volumes increase and the delivery guarantees made by retailers become ever more exacting. Certainly, there is no shortage of stories in the media about the pressures under which drivers are being placed.

From our point of view, the worry is that what will suffer most is safety. When it seems as though getting all the parcels from the depot to the customer is the most important thing in the world, it is tempting to cut corners.

The most likely compromise is probably that drivers are asked to do more than they can reasonably do, leading to erratic or dangerous on-road behavior. But there are also temptations in other areas - perhaps you put off a routine service until January that you know really needs doing now just to keep that van on the road.

Also, if you are hiring agency drivers to help you cope with peaks in demand, there is a sometimes overwhelming desire to just get them working when they really should be undergoing induction into your road risk policy.

Of course, what should happen is that when operational stresses on your fleet increase, your commitment to safety does so in parallel, that you redouble your efforts. Happily, we see this happen on many fleets.

However, there is also a suspicion that in some places, drivers and other road users are being placed in danger by the sheer scale of commercial pressure being placed on them. As an industry, in these circumstances, we should all be working to ensure that our standards are being upheld - then we can all enjoy the festive season.