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Driver wellbeing vital for road safety

05 December 2022

WITH PROFESSIONAL drivers under pressure during the Black Friday to Christmas peak, driver training specialist, Drivetech, part of the AA, is urging businesses and operators to pay particular attention to the mental health and wellbeing of their drivers over this busy time.

About 30% of all miles driven on UK’s roads are by at-work vehicles, which is why the transport sector in particular is one of the most heavily regulated industries. With ever-increasing demands on driver time, mental health and wellbeing increasingly play a vital role in professional driver behaviour.

According to the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) almost one in ten bus driver positions are vacant in the UK, driving the drop in the number of services, and prompting calls to improve pay and conditions. Often professional drivers are subject to low pay, long hours and shift patterns that disrupt sleep and can potentially lead to exhaustion. 

Similarly, lorry driving presents unique challenges to both HGV drivers and other road users. They are larger and offer less manoeuvrability, experience bigger blind spots and can also carry dangerous or hazardous loads, making driving safely even more stressful. 

Drivetech's product manager Dave Wales explains, “Basics such as timely breaks, healthy food and hydration all influence wellbeing, but when it comes to professional drivers, addressing these needs can be complex. Employers should already be scheduling journeys to take these factors into account, but these need to be flexible to take account of potential disruptions to journeys that can be driven by external factors, such as incidents, weather conditions, roadworks, vehicle faults and seasonality. Good time management can be critical in helping drivers to manage stress. 

“Personalities and experience will also impact on driver stress levels What attitudes do drivers have to risk? How will they respond to disruption? And how do their confidence levels impact on handling different scenarios? Employers can address these issues by securing bespoke driver training to drill down into potential issues. Such training has an important role to play in helping drivers to understand how their emotions influence their behaviour, the actions they can take to manage stressful situations and how their attitude to risk impacts how they handle safety, especially if time is a factor.”