The safety of your fleet drivers should be a top priority. After all, unchecked driver fatigue, drug use and mental health issues can lead to catastrophic and potentially deadly collisions.
As a fleet manager, it's your duty to establish comprehensive policies and programs to proactively monitor driver health and fitness to drive. This post explores key considerations and best practices.
The Dangers of Fatigued Driving
Driver fatigue causes a staggering one in five collisions, which is why it should be front and center in any fleet safety policy. Adults sleeping only 4-5 hours per night experience impairment equivalent to being legally drunk. Yet many managers unwittingly allow overtired drivers to get behind the wheel day after day.
To curb fatigued driving:
Examine schedules to ensure adequate rest periods
Educate all drivers on the importance of sleep
Foster an open culture where drivers can admit when they are too tired to drive safely
Simply put, managers must treat fatigue as seriously as alcohol impairment. Negligence could make your fleet liable in the case of a collision. Be sure to access the National Highway's fatigue management resources.
Curbing Drugged Driving
Here's a sobering statistic: drugs were detected in 20% of deceased drivers in 2021, up from just 11% in 2014. Clearly, drug use behind the wheel is rising at an alarming rate. Random drug testing and strict policies are absolute musts to protect your drivers, vehicles, and the public.
Bear in mind that even prescription medications can compromise driving ability. Drivers should always clear medications with doctors and report use to managers. And unlike alcohol, there are NO acceptable levels of illegal substances. Traces can be detected days or weeks later, making risks hard to gauge.
Don't become another statistic. Regularly screen your drivers and reinforce your drugged driving policy through training. Failing to do so suggests negligence should an impaired driver cause a collision.
Supporting Driver Mental Health
Finally, we cannot ignore the mental health crisis among drivers. Shockingly, a man dies by suicide every two hours in the UK. Untreated depression, stress, and emotional problems can directly impact driving safety. Still, the stigma around mental health issues stops many from seeking help.
As a manager, you are uniquely positioned to break down barriers and direct drivers to critical resources. Create an open, supportive culture where drivers feel safe admitting problems. Have procedures to provide counseling, temporary alternative work, and other accommodations. Remind staff that mental wellness affects driving ability just like fatigue and drug use.
Take a Stand for Safety
By taking proactive measures to manage fatigue, drug use, and mental health in your fleet, you uphold your duty of care to drivers and the community while reducing collision risks. Use the National Highway's Van Driver Toolkit to build robust policies and procedures around these key issues. Driver health and driver safety go hand in hand.