The run up to Christmas is arguably more dangerous and challenging to fleets than other busy times of the year. Here are a few of the reasons that fleet safety must be carefully guarded.
- Peak volumes. The road transport industry has several ‘peaks’ during the year, with Q2 frequently being the busiest in terms of vehicle miles, all of which present risks to fleet safety. However, the most dangerous period for commercial vehicle drivers is almost certainly the run up to Christmas. According to Department of Transport statistics, in 2018 trucks covered an extra 51,000 miles in Q4, and moved freight an extra 3,614 billion tonne kilometres. All so that families can spend an extra £800 per household on food, drink, trees and presents.
- With peak volumes pumping into supermarket and retails stores throughout the UK, national and regional distribution centres are even more congested than usual. Other deliveries can also be more problematic, particularly tail-lift deliveries to smaller or express stores where kerb space is scarce.
- Christmas is a peak time for thefts. Organised gangs have long observed HGVs with high value loads, such as alcohol or electronics. Make sure load details and routes are known to only the driver and the transport manager. Remind drivers using SmartDrive’s video-based safety system that they can activate the cameras manually to protect themselves and capture vital evidence if under threat.
- During the Christmas peak the roads are more congested with shoppers and holiday traffic, not least because the weather is bad so those who would walk in summer, drive in winter.
- Bad weather plays its own part, compromising the road surface and visibility. Weather conditions are more varied as well, with unpredictable frosts, high winds, ice, flooding, rain and, occasionally, even snow.
- Early darkness. Autumn has short days with early nightfall. Darkness obviously makes driving more challenging. However, the limited daylight can also have a profound effect on our ability to perform at our best, and for some it evolves into SAD disorder. Certainly, according to Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents, every time the clocks go back, road fatalities spike.
- While professional drivers may be more skilled all round than other motorists, they are still at greater risk in these conditions because commuters may not adapt well to the difficult conditions. HGV and van drivers must be more alert to the possibility of other drivers being distracted or fatigued.
- Fleets are more likely to use agency drivers in the run up to Christmas. Make sure they have proper inductions and are given every chance to do their jobs well. Agency drivers will often not know the vehicle, the routes, the customers or the best places to park or deliver. This all adds another level of stress to the job, and when people are too stressed their situational awareness diminishes. Calmer drivers are safer drivers.
In short, there has never been a more important time for fleets to invest time in driver protection than during Christmas peak. As the nights draw in, thousands of the HGV and van drivers who deliver Christmas are being protected by SmartDrive’s video-based safety system. Now that’s a heart-warming thought.
Wishing you a safe, and peaceful Christmas from all of us at SmartDrive.
- Posted by Nicola Burgess
- On December 18, 2019