Our Christmas Deliveries arrive at our doors, but at what risk to the drivers and other road users? I received a parcel this week from a very friendly delivery driver who had a van bulging with packages, and as I got into conversation with him about how busy things were at this time of year, he commented that he had not had a day off for several weeks.

Driver Fatigue

Brake and Direct Line survey in 2014 found almost half (49%) of UK drivers surveyed admit driving after less than five hours’ sleep; this is not enough sleep to prevent fatigue. Driver fatigue is one of the main contributing factors to road traffic accidents, and with over 27,000 people killed or seriously injured amongst more than 176,000 casualties on Britain’s roads in the past year, this is something we need to take seriously.

December is hectic for many people, but for the many self-employed drivers who are working round the clock to get our ‘must-have’ items delivered in time for festive celebrations, it is a particularly stressful period.  The winter weather and shorter daylight time makes driving conditions more difficult, and the financial pressures placed on drivers with high targets and delivery based payment methods increase the risks to these workers (and anyone else on the road with them).

The road safety charity BRAKE report that one in three drivers surveyed admit having experienced head-nodding, or ‘microsleeps’ (nodding off for short periods without realising or remembering it) at the wheel. In six seconds, a vehicle being driven at 70mph travels about 200 metres, which is enough time to veer across three lanes of traffic or into the central reservation. Simulator studies have shown a clear relationship between microsleeps and crashes, so it is critical that we do not drive when we are tired.

Managing occupational road risk is a duty of all employers requiring driving for work, so on day 8 of this series we are asking you to think if your workplace driving activities are safe?

Some Safer Driving Questions to ask;

  1. Are your vehicles fit for Winter driving? Tyres, brakes, lights, oil, screenwash?
  2. Are your drivers fit for driving? Clean license, not tired, not taking medication, and well enough to drive?
  3. Are your work journeys properly planned and managed? Plenty of time, safe routes, and most importantly, are they necessary?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have lots of resources to help employers manage occupational road risk and help make driving for work safer, including how to choose safer vehicles, and guidance on setting workplace driving policies. They can be found here .

Drive Safely Home for Christmas

So we at worksafeandwell hope you all manage to drive safely home for Christmas, and urge you to think about that person bringing your gifts to your door,  as they may well have been on the road for some time and in need of a break.

Perhaps we should all say a big THANKYOU to the many thousands of drivers who get our food and other supplies to the shops so we can fill our trolleys all year round.