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5 ways to take action on fleet risk as drivers return to roads

Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart interim CEO, looks at the key issues that fleets should be addressing as many businesses return to work.

Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart interim CEO

Journey planning
“While the Government has reduced travel restrictions in England, advice is still to avoid using public transport wherever possible. So traffic and congestion may increase, potentially lengthening journey times. At the same time, with the introduction of pop-up cycle lanes and other Government initiatives to promote walking and cycling, routes may have changed, so journey planning in advance of every trip – no matter how familiar – will be critical for commercial drivers, to minimise risk of delays and ensure they get to their destination as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Vehicle maintenance checks
“Businesses may be under real pressure following a downturn in revenue during lockdown and they may be looking to save costs. But reducing spend on vehicle maintenance checks – postponing replacement of tyres or checking brake pads, for example – is simply a false economy. Not only could fuel efficiency be adversely affected, but the risk of much more significant outlays in the future, should the worst happen, is very real and should not be underestimated. Employers’ duty of care to their drivers and to other road users is paramount, so businesses and their drivers must maintain basic vehicle safety standards, no matter what financial pressures are in play.”

MOT exemption
“In March the Department for Transport announced a six-month exemption from MOT testing. Employers may therefore find that some of their staff, many of whom may be cash-strapped following coronavirus restrictions – will be driving or riding to work, or even travelling on company business, in private vehicles that have not had basic safety checks for a long time. HR departments may therefore need to remind their employees and grey fleet drivers in particular to ensure their safety is not put at risk by driving vehicles that have not been sufficiently maintained.”

Mental health
“Fleet drivers, like many people, may well be feeling significant pressure to perform at the moment, as struggling businesses look to generate revenue and avoid making cutbacks. They may also have personal worries at home that could affect their concentration. Drivers’ mental health and wellbeing as they get back on the road for work should therefore be a real area of focus for fleet managers and employers in the coming weeks, so that they can avoid the risk of staff going on sick leave or – even worse – being involved in collisions due to drivers losing focus.”

(Note: For tips on managing health and wellbeing when driving or riding, IAM RoadSmart recently published a number of helpful resources at www.iamroadsmart.com/mentalhealth)

Other road users
“Over half a million drivers made SORN applications to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in recent weeks, declaring their cars as being off the road and unused. So, as those drivers and others start to get back behind the wheel again, they will likely be out-of-practice and may have lost confidence. There are also still many more cyclists and pedestrians on the roads and pavements, with people continuing to work from home and schools yet to return. Fleet drivers must therefore be more careful than ever to ensure their awareness of other road users is maintained, and should use their observation and anticipation skills to minimise any risk of costly, or tragic, incident. Advanced driving techniques can help with this and IAM RoadSmart e-learning courses can provide a quick-and-easy reminders that employers can distribute to their staff.”

(Note: For details of IAM RoadSmart course and CHOICES e-learning options visit www.iamroadsmart.com/business).

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.