New research from the Department for Transport has found that driver fatigue contributes to more road accidents in the UK than drug-impaired driving.
This new study has found that driving while drug-impaired accounted for 18% of accidents on Britain’s roads in 2015, while driving under fatigue accounted for 20%.
40% of this figure involved commercial vehicles, suggesting that the hours employees work are a contributing factor.
One in five crashes is fatigue-related, but while there are strict legal guidelines and punishments – including imprisonment – for driving under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, regulations covering driver fatigue are less stringent.
If there were more restrictions on drivers who are tired, how might this affect businesses who employ them, and should they take more responsibility in this area anyway?
Are Businesses Managing?
“Driving is the most dangerous thing most staff do all day,” comments Alan Locke-Timmins of the fleet-servicing specialists AYCEN Group. “For fleet managers, it’s a pressing issue, and they tackle it with a combination of training and telematics.”
“There are large numbers of non-managed business vehicles and company cars, where driver training is not seen as a priority”
“Many fleets now focus their safety checks at the driver level, rather than restricting them to vehicles, looking at driver behaviour,” Alan observes.
Might this be a transferable model to individual drivers of business vehicles such as company cars?
“The issue of people’s personal driving habits is always potentially difficult, but should tighter regulations regarding fatigue come in, there might not be a choice,” says Alan.
“Employers have a duty of care,” he says, “covering the health and safety of employees at work, and this includes on-the-road work activities.”
The Management of Health and Safety At Work Regulations (1999) state that employers must assess the risks involved in their employees’ use of the road for work, and put reasonable measures in place to manage driver fatigue.
“Especially when it comes to non-managed business vehicles, such as company cars, the big question is what these reasonable measures should be,” suggests Alan.
“Employers, for their part, should always ensure staff are not exceeding recommended working limits or driver hours – things that contribute significantly to driver fatigue”
However, much of this is down to personal lifestyles and driver habits when it comes to people using company cars for business.
“Drivers themselves have a duty to make sure they’re in a fit state to drive, and that they’re not putting others at risk,” Alan concludes. “How employers can work with them to cut down driver fatigue will be a task for employee engagement, advice and support in a variety of forms.”
Business Aspects Magazine appreciates Alan Locke-Timmins’ expertise and contribution.