🕒 Article read time: 2 minutes
The telematics route to tackling driver well-being
Beverley Wise, Sales Director UK & Ireland, Webfleet Solutions
Commercial vehicle drivers can find themselves out on the road for more than 40 hours each week – but being out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind when it comes to their well-being.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 27% of work-related ill-health cases in the transportation sector in 2019 related to stress, depression or anxiety. Elsewhere, figures from the ONS show the suicide rate for van drivers is 25% higher than the national average and 20% higher for truck drivers.
While road risk management programmes sit at the heart of employers’ health and safety responsibilities, wider aspects of driver well-being can fall by the wayside as businesses strive to hit performance and profit targets. This, however, can lead to reduced employee morale, lower productivity and increased levels of sickness absence.
TACKLING DRIVER STRESS AND FATIGUE
Support for drivers’ mental health became a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, but on a day-to-day basis, congestion, excessive workloads, tight deadlines and inefficient job schedules can all contribute to stress-induced disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Fleet technology can play in important role in helping address these problems. Smarter navigation and routeing systems incorporating live traffic information, for example, allow companies to plan around delays, helping reduce journey times, driver frustration and the pressures of leaving customers waiting. Truck-specific navigation, meanwhile, enables HGV drivers to route their vehicles around access restrictions based on height, width, weight and weight per axle, mitigating worries of getting stuck or striking obstacles.
Telematics data can feed into routeing and scheduling software to ensure job schedules change according to evolving priorities and workloads, with workers automatically updated via their in-cab driver terminals. This reduces the pressure of manually updating their own schedules. What’s more, jobs can be reallocated when new ones come in or delays occur, ensuring sensible workloads and realistic deadlines.
Driver performance feedback can also be provided pre-trip, post-trip as well as on the road, flagging when driving styles may be erratic, which can be stress-induced. Drivers can then be given coaching on adopting a more relaxed style behind the wheel.
Legally, HGV drivers must take a 45-minute break after every 4.5 hours they drive – but the Highway Code recommends drivers take 15-minute breaks every two hours. Using digital planning tools, journeys can be planned with breaks timetabled into drivers’ schedules. Employers can also plan these breaks around energy dips, such as after lunch.
TELEMATICS IN ACTION
Leading technology company Telent is leveraging Webfleet Solutions’ fleet management system WEBFLEET to support the mental health and well-being of its 1,000-strong mobile workforce.
As long shifts are often required when dealing with emergency situations, WEBFLEET alerts have been set up to manage driver hours and help prevent fatigue.
The system issues automatic alerts when it identifies employees approaching the 12-hour door-to-door working time limit. A dynamic risk assessment process follows, with next steps including a hotel booking or replacement engineer.
Telent managers can use WEBFLEET to check in remotely with engineers who have not made contact or have deviated from their work schedules. In an emergency, they can use WEBFLEET to create a geofence around an incident to identify and communicate with any employees at risk, and dispatch support workers if necessary.
Anmarie Landi, QEHS Director at Telent, has stressed how these measures are playing an integral role in safeguarding its workforce and ensuring their “health and well-being needs are not only being met but exceeded”.
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Published On: 22/07/2021 16:00:20