The term alone has many connotations for a mid-COVID world – we should shop alone, many people feel alone and, of course, an increasing number of drivers work alone. Lone working has always been a cause for concern in the logistics industry and service van fleets but now it’s exacerbated by the need for social distancing, (no drivers’ mates) and the growth in last mile deliveries.
Drivers working alone are more vulnerable due to their remoteness, resulting in a greater risk exposure for safety incidents for the employer and making them harder to manage.
These drivers are at risk in ways which their employer must assess and try to mitigate. The SmartDrive video-based safety programme is one of the ways employers can offer a measure of protection to lone drivers, and in doing so help meet their own duty-of-care and legal responsibilities.
Most drivers may be alone for specific periods of their working day, but they often start and end their day at a depot, with the safety reminders and support that implies.
For many drivers, there is a high degree of vulnerability:
- Drivers who are away for days at a time, sleeping in their cab.
- Drivers who collect milk at 4am from deserted farms.
- Engineers, electricians, utility workers and railway workers who all keep their vehicles at home so they can respond to a work call that could take them to any part of their grid that requires attention day or night.
What makes lone drivers vulnerable?
There are many ways in which these drivers are vulnerable and in which their employer could struggle to protect them sufficiently.
- They are frequently remote from their management teams.
Even truck drivers now often work at ‘dark’ depots and are sent their load and route instructions purely via a handheld device.
- Those in non-logistics work often have core skills outside transport, and their primary safety training is about that core skill and not about road safety.
For example, an electrical engineer rarely realises that, statistically, the most dangerous thing they do in their day is not climb a pylon, but the drive they make to and from the job.
- Managers in non-transport businesses are often not conversant with transport risks or transport solutions.
- Subcontractors, gig economy workers, the self-employed or one-man bands delivering for major players can all be a source of risk for their ‘client’ company.
The courts recently granted ‘worker’ status to formerly self-employed Uber drivers. This is likely to bring further legal challenges about the employment status of couriers and parcel delivery drivers. However, even without this, if a driver delivers for a specific brand every day, delivering assigned loads within an assigned geographical area and to a route suggested by the client, who is responsible if they cause a fatality? Courts, coroners, or traffic commissioners may take the view that the assigning company should have overseen areas such as fitness to drive, vehicle roadworthiness, drivers’ hours compliance and driver safety. Either way, the brand would undoubtedly be damaged.
- The rise in home delivery has put extraordinary pressure on couriers and commercial vehicle drivers.
Large numbers of self-employed couriers are being hired to meet the increased delivery demands, but how much driver training, monitoring, or road safety awareness have these drivers had?
Most drivers are safer (and feel safer) when using SmartDrive’s managed service video safety programme. The reasons behind this are:
- Drivers have access to a manual record button for personal security
- The video footage uploads automatically after an incident and management can set alerts to be notified of specific incident type, to ensure rapid response.
- Employers who monitor driver safety care about their drivers’ safety – which results in increased employee morale.
- Those fraudulently targeting commercial vehicles for crash for cash are deterred by the camera systems
- Employers can identify key indicators of driver safety, through activity happening both on the road or in the cab, such as driver fatigue, distraction, illness, speed, near collisions and much more, resulting in better training and coaching their drivers to success
Increase the safety of your lone drivers with a managed video safety programme.
- Posted by Nicola Burgess
- On May 4, 2021