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Six key questions to help fleets get business drivers back on roads

Fleets should make sure employees feel comfortable getting behind the wheel again as the country opens up after the pandemic.

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driver Risk Management, said that fleet duty of care is now more important than ever

So says RED Driver Risk Management, adding that employers should ask six key questions before asking employees to resume driving for business to help ensure drivers are ready, both physically and mentally.

Its analysis reveals many employees feel more anxious about driving again and going out on business as lockdown eases.

To help deal with this effectively, RED Driver Risk Management has compiled a six-question survey to enable fleet decision-makers to identify staff who may feel nervous about driving for business again.

The questions are:

  • Are you expecting your staff to resume ‘driving for business?’
  • Are you asking staff that have not previously ‘driven for business’ to drive – possibly even in their own vehicle?
  • Have you directly asked your staff whether they feel comfortable returning to ‘normal’?
  • Have you directly asked staff about the effect that Covid-19 has had on their mental well-being?
  • Do you have in place a resiliency/wellbeing programme that all staff can access?
  • Do you have in place any training courses available to staff who are not comfortable in any of the above areas?

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driver Risk Management, said that while duty of care has always been of paramount importance for fleets, it’s now more important than ever.

He explained: “Businesses need to be aware that the parameters of what they previously considered duty of care may have shifted considerably in the past year.

“Not only will employers have to spend more time looking after their employees’ mental health, but they also have to be able to ensure productivity isn’t affected.

“After a year of lockdown, many employees have been working from home and driving a lot less than usual. But as there is a resumption of more typical working practices, mileages will start to rise again and this brings risk with it, not only for drivers whose skills are rusty, but for those who are naturally more nervous anyway.”

McIntosh added that asking the six questions would help a business to not only identify any drivers it considers to be at risk, but could also help begin the process of adopting a wider ‘wellbeing’ approach to managing employees. This can support staff and give early warning signs of behaviours or attitudes which may put them at more risk on the road.

It’s a service that RED Driver Risk Management offers through its Wellbeing Profiler; its work for one client – which runs a fleet of more than 3,000 vehicles – highlighted that issues such as anxiety and personal management increased during the first quarter of 2021, when lockdown three began).

Two of the main areas of concern were a lack of self-management and control, and the company was then able to put in proactive assistance to improve mental health and wellbeing.

McIntosh added: “We know the pandemic has affected people in different ways – there are some who will be incredibly nervous about not only driving again, but meeting clients face to face.

“It is essential that as a responsible employer you can identify these employees and offer them help to adapt back to the ‘old normal’.”

RED Driver Risk Management is also offering fleets a specially devised ‘Back on the Road’ training plan catering for drivers post-pandemic. The programme can be delivered in-vehicle on a one-to-one basis or interactively via a live webinar and covers areas from confidence building, to a driver re-focus after a prolonged period of non-driving, and also specific road type confidence building, for example on motorways or rural roads or slow-speed manoeuvring.

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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. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.