Driving again for work post-COVID is likely to be even riskier, and we have made a list of the increased risk factors that may be impacting employees. Employers who are mindful of these risks, highlight them to staff, and put together clear post lockdown strategies will help get their employees home safely at the end of every day.
Pedestrians on roads
Lots of cities around the globe have adopted new road layouts and measures to allow for higher pedestrian volumes so they can get around while also maintaining social distancing. Also, many pedestrians, for a good few months, have had the freedom of many roads, with negligible traffic or some roads being temporarily closed. Drivers can not take it for granted that pedestrians will be aware of the return of traffic with growing volumes of vehicles and with more and more roads opening up again.
More (and different) road users
Many countries have experienced record sales in bikes, as people seek alternative ways to travel. The volume of those commuting on bikes has dramatically increased, and more cycle lanes are being created on many roads around the globe to accommodate. Cities like London are also expecting car numbers on the roads to double, as people will opt to commute in their vehicles to avoid public transport. The growing number of motorbikes, scooters and e-scooters will also mean both a greater variety and higher volume of road users for drivers to be mindful of.
Congestion. Delays. Increased journey time
Some cities and countries are anticipating a huge surge in the number of people who will be driving and the impact this will have on increased journey times. For instance, Transport for London modelling has anticipated more than a doubling in driver numbers. So, employees will also need to be mindful of potentially increased congestion, delays and increased journey times when planning for work.
Rustiness behind the wheel
Many people have not done a great deal of driving during the lockdown. So there will inevitably be some rustiness when starting to drive for work again. If possible, employers should encourage their employees to re-acclimatise cautiously to work-related driving.
Some work vehicles have not been used for months and may even have been completely taken off the road for the duration of the lockdown. During this period, there are lots of things that could have happened to the vehicle. The battery may have died; tyres may have deflated and degraded, there may have even been insects or animals nesting in the vehicle. Employers will need to help their employees check and remedy any issues before they start driving again.
This has been a hugely stressful time for many of us. People have been worried about their families, livelihood and way of life. Lots of people have had to juggle childcare alongside their work. All of these factors will contribute to more sleepless nights and heightened fatigue amongst the driving population on the road.
It is information overload out there. We have more communications than ever - let it be push notifications, messages from work or loved ones and calls from relatives. Lots of us have been glued to our phones for months. So we need to be mindful of drivers entering their vehicles with these levels of distraction.
Risk of infection
Based on some updated company policies, drivers will need to be mindful of the need to wash their hands and wipe down their vehicles before each journey, even if they do not share their vehicles with other passengers. This will be just another thing for them to have to consider amongst all the other daily challenges. It is inevitable that most of us will feel unwell at some point in the coming months - even if it is just a minor headache. Drivers need to be mindful of what the COVID symptoms are, and employers need to reiterate the message of not travelling and potentially to self-isolate if anyone suspects they may have COVID. In lots of countries, it is also now possible to test to see if you have COVID.
Worse road conditions
The lockdown has meant that lots of essential road repairs and improvements have also been on hold. This may mean drivers are contending with worse road conditions and a larger number of roadworks in the coming months.
How to plan for this
The team at Brightmile have already written a piece about how companies can plan, prepare and support their employees with a clear back to work strategy. You can read more about this here.