As lockdowns across the globe start to ease and businesses reopen their sites and offices, many companies are rightly concerned about employees returning, perhaps with rusty skills, to roads that are increasingly crowded and shared with new and vulnerable users.
Many business drivers are driving significant mileage for the first time in months. The number of new work drivers may also be on the rise as a result of people avoiding public transport. There will be more vulnerable users, for example, cyclists or electric scooter riders,- who will be looking to new forms of mobility to maintain the advised social distancing. Plus some will be driving with a whole new level of anxiety and distraction, due to the unprecedented work and life pressures we’re all facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employers need to be mindful of all of these pressures on their workforce and to the best of their ability to support their staff through this period. Here we’ve made a list of things employers could be doing to reduce the risk of work-related driving as we come out of lockdown.
Continue allowing people to work from home. If your staff and team can do the vast majority of their duties from home, then don’t rush their return back to your offices. You may have found some of your staff have become even more engaged and productive as a result of the time they’re saving by not driving.
Stagger the return of employees driving for work. This may not be practically feasible, due to the demands on your workforce. However, if at all possible, assist smaller groups of employees in starting driving for work again. This will make it easier for you and your team to support them.
Ensure that your drivers perform vehicle checks before getting back on the road. For business vehicles, which have not been used for a period of time, it will be very important to check key things like tyre pressures and brakes. You should also remind drivers to recommence any regular vehicle checks which are stipulated by your business.
Communicate with your drivers to make them aware of the increased risk levels. The increased number of pedestrians, cyclists, and out of practice road users creates risks that your drivers may not be aware of. Pedestrians and cyclists may have become accustomed to empty roads and be even more vulnerable than normal. Send your drivers a message to prepare them before it’s too late. If you would like some template wording, please get in touch with the Brightmile team.
Show empathy for your drivers’ mental health. Being ‘human’ about the whole thing, acknowledging the pressures on your employees and showing you care will help them feel they are not alone. You can go further by offering them professional support in regards to any specific concerns they may have. Feeling like they are listened to, and any concerns are acknowledged will be valuable for your employees and improve their focus on the road.
Highlight the increased risk of smartphone distraction. We are all glued to our phones during this time, with a barrage of news and notifications coming through. It will be extremely important to highlight that engaging with a phone will not be accepted under any circumstance when behind the wheel - irrespective of everything happening in our lives and the world. If drivers need to check their device, then they must park their vehicle.
Ensure your staff are mindful of their fatigue levels behind the wheel. With all the pressure and uncertainty, lots of us may be a great deal more tired and drained than usual. Awareness of this fatigue and ensuring your drivers take regular breaks will be instrumental in preventing avoidable collisions.
A good driver safety partner can help your business with many of these points and reduce the burden of your employees driving again.
With fully remote deployment and management, many businesses are turning to Brightmile to help them manage the risks set out above. We are passionate about driver safety and keen to make a difference at this challenging time, so if this is something we can also help you with then don’t hesitate to get in touch!