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Report tells fleets to help drivers return to the roads safely after lockdown

Date: 04 March 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Employers must act to ensure their drivers are safe on the roads as the UK emerges from Covid-19 lockdown measures.

That's according to a new white paper published by driver training firm Drive iQ, entitled 'Driving after lockdown: A guide to employee safety and wellbeing'.

The paper is said to have been published in response to the UK Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

It highlights five key issues arising from lockdown - increased homeworking, irregular vehicle use, shorter journeys and active fatigue, changes to the mobility mix, and changing road layouts - and actions employers can take to combat dangers associated with them.

It says organisations should raise awareness of the issues among its managers, and equip drivers with practical strategies for dealing with them, through initiatives such as online training.

It says training, which can help employees make positive changes to their behaviour, should cover topics such as adapting to conditions, managing time, active and passive fatigue, coping strategies, vulnerable road users, stress, distractions, mindful driving, speed, and healthy habits. 

The paper says homeworking is an issue for drivers because it has been associated with higher levels of stress and anxiety, which can contribute to high-risk behaviour behind the wheel, with many homeworkers still needing to drive during their working day, whether in a company vehicle or their own.

However, they are driving more irregularly, which is also said to be its own issue, as out-of-practice drivers could find their skills fading from not being on the road as often.

The increase in online video calls being used for business, the paper says, means long journeys are less common, however it warns that short journeys leave drivers susceptible to 'active fatigue', caused by highly demanding road conditions in busy, urban environments, and on country roads. For example, drivers in town have to deal with regular junctions, traffic lights, pedestrians, and road signs, while in the countryside there may be regular speed changes, and needing to give way to oncoming traffic on narrow lanes. 

The paper argues that lockdown will prompt a longer-term trend towards increased levels of walking and cycling, and warns that drivers need to be aware of the dangers associated with driving in areas with increased numbers of these vulnerable road users, and also of how to stay safe if they choose to walk or cycle themselves.

Finally, it says that changes made to road layouts to accommodate this new mobility mix mean that drivers will need to be even more focused than before as they adapt to the new road environment.

The paper concludes: "Organisations who value the health, safety and well-being of their employees will want to address the issues raised in this white paper. 

"Effective strategies will recognise the increasingly fluid boundaries between home and work, and those between travelling to, from and for work.

"The benefits to employers are likely to be significant, encompassing improved employee well-being, decreased costs associated with road traffic incidents and an increase in productivity."

The white paper is available from the Drive iQ website.