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Beware growing impact of pandemic on driver mental health, fleets urged

Fleets need to be aware of the growing impact of the pandemic on mental health and any subsequent safety risks to drivers.

It’s worth noting that fleets are well placed to be contributors to the mobility ecosystem rather than just being users

FleetCheck says there is a genuine case for fleets to take action on driver mental health issues

A new poll has shown that 40% of people believed their mental health had become worse during the crisis; just the latest in a series of polls and pieces of research showing how the last nine months have had a very negative effect on the mental health of many, many people, according to FleetCheck.

Peter Golding, managing director at the fleet software specialist, said: “We know that mental health problems of all kinds can have an impact on driver performance on the road. With people saying that feelings of anxiety, stress and depression are particularly apparent, there is a genuine case for fleets to take action.

“Essentially, employers should be fulfilling their basic requirement of checking that drivers are fit to drive and of course, their mental wellbeing should arguably be as much part of this assessment as if they had a physical problem.

“It should be taken as a given that anyone who feels that their mental health has deteriorated to a point where they should not be driving should be taken seriously, and employers should also make it clear that such situations will be dealt with sympathetically.

“Probably the starting point for most fleets would be to seek professional human resources and medical guidance in order to ask drivers a few questions regularly in order to flag up any immediate issues that need attention.”

Driving for Better Business has also recently published new mental health resources to support drivers during the pandemic. They’ve been published in partnership with CALM and are free.

Peter Golding added that FleetCheck was examining the introduction of basic mental health tools into its Vehicle Inspection App, which included not just daily walkaround safety checks but also incorporated questions about the driver’s health.

“We modified the app last year to cover coronavirus symptoms and now seems like a good moment to add further questions about mental health. We are taking advice and hope to be able to do this soon.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 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.