Employee Mental Health Should Be A Primary Concern For Fleet Managers

Venson backs report from IAM RoadSmart which calls for greater importance to be placed on driver well-being

Venson Automotive Solutions is urging businesses to back the charity IAM RoadSmart as it calls for urgent changes to be made to support working drivers in its new report ‘Driving for Work’[i].  Now more than ever, solutions such as driver training, policies, advice and procedures should be implemented as increasing numbers of occupational drivers return to the UK’s roads.

Poor mental health can affect concentration levels as well as reduce reaction times, and disturbed sleep, due to anxiety and depression, can lead to driving while tired – both of which are major contributors to road accidents. With a third of road deaths and a fifth of serious injuries sustained in accidents involving a working driver or rider, and with 39% of pedestrians killed after being hit by someone who was driving as part of their job[ii], the importance of driver well-being plays a crucial part in road safety.

And according to the ‘Driving for Work’ report, it is not just fatigue and mental health that suffer but also the physical well-being of drivers too. Stress can have physical side-effects and with some drivers working longer and demanding hours it is important the businesses communicate effectively with employees to ensure the signs of poor physical health are not missed.

Simon Staton, Client Management Director at Venson Automotive Solutions commented; “As lone and remote workers, drivers can often be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It is important therefore that businesses have processes in place to ensure that driver well-being is at the top of their health and safety agenda.”

With IAM RoadSmart calling for further changes to happen through increased prosecution of liable companies, Venson believes businesses need to take action now.  This includes reviewing the resources available to drivers, such as motorway services and roadside facilities, as many drivers are deterred from stopping for essential rest due to prices.

Continues Simon Staton: “With the stress and uncertainty of the last year, many more employees are feeling the strain and businesses need to ensure that employees are supported. Driver well-being, or the lack of it, has a direct impact on how well a business performs and as we take on a world that will be forever changed due to the pandemic, fleets can play a huge part in the ongoing success of their organisation and ensuring a supported and productive workforce.”

Venson’s free whitepaper ‘It is good to talk: Caring about Mental Health’ guides businesses and fleet managers on how to promote good mental health at work practices and offers practical help and advice. It can be downloaded at here.

Venson’s top tips to avoid stress when driving:

  • Before commencing a journey ensure mindset is right and fitness to drive.
  • Make sure the vehicle is fit for a journey: check fuel, oil level, coolant, tyres, lights, a clean windscreen, washers and wipers.
  • Allow plenty of time for a journey and know route to destination.
  • Check traffic conditions before setting off.
  • Avoid driving at peak times and in congested areas if possible as that can cause the most stress.
  • Ensure the driver’s seat, head restraint and steering column are correctly adjusted: aches and pains due to poor posture will not improve mood.
  • Control a situation by setting an example and giving way at busy junctions or allowing traffic to merge into lane when necessary.
  • Anticipate other people’s actions and mistakes on the road by looking further ahead.
  • Give drivers space on the road to resolve an error – courtesy costs nothing.
  • Keep away from aggressive drivers – don’t react by accelerating, braking or swerving suddenly, as that will reduce vehicle control.
  • Driving aggressively, speeding and overtaking are unlikely to hasten journey time by much, but could increase tenseness.
  • Switch off the phone while driving – check for messages and emails or make calls when taking a break.
  • For every two hours of driving take a 15-minute break – it can reduce tension and aids alertness.
  • Consider an overnight stop on long journeys.
  • Calm, controlled breathing helps to release muscular tension and relieve stress.
  • Is driving necessary or is there an alternative?