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Safety on the road: Ensure your employees have taken the right precautions

safetyEmployees who spend extended time on the road are susceptible to a range of hazards that the average desk-bound worker seldom encounters. And although an employer cannot spend every hour holding their hand behind the wheel there are several safety measures that can be utilised to give them the best chance of safe working.

Rest
According to Eurofound’s European working conditions survey, fatigue is the most commonly reported health problem in land transport.

Even away from the competitive field of driving, there are many tragic examples of drivers apparently falling asleep at the wheels of their cars, with devastating and often fatal consequences. According to ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), drivers are most vulnerable in the early hours of the morning, when they have had little sleep, if they are on medication, or on monotonous journeys. Make sure that your drivers are aware of these hazards.

Lorry drivers can be monitored via devices on their dashboard which use GPS tracking technology, and under EU rules all driving must be recorded on a tachograph. The data can be used to see where staff are at certain times of the day and safe driving, but also monitor the workers’ well-being. These inexpensive devices can check if seatbelts are being worn, and whether workers are taking responsible rest.

The conscientious boss should keep a keen eye on these readings and make sure his drivers are not behind the wheel for longer than nine hours in a day.

Vehicle safety
Lorries and buses are subject to the same MOT tests as cars each year, at a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Goods Vehicle Testing Station (GVTS) or a privately owned Authorised Testing Facility (ATF).

Certain checks should be regularly undertaken by the driver and the company, to include:

*Tyre inflation, wear and embedded debris
*Windscreens free of cracks
*Engine oil and coolant levels
*Lights

All tie-downs and trailers should be checked before and during the journey, as an unstable load is one of the most dangerous occurrences in truck driving.

Driving
Large vehicles feel different than a hatchback or a bike. The braking distances are longer, the turning arcs are larger, and the low bridges easily negotiated in a coupe might slice the top from a HGV.

Clearly added care must be taken by the driver and this comes with wisdom and experience, but advanced devices from companies such as Brigade Electronics can also make life easier. Camera systems and monitors which eliminate blind spots, and reversing warning systems, can aid parking and changing lanes in the large vehicle.

In addition, make sure mirrors are adjusted before the journey begins.

Violence
Sadly, according to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work the number of violent attacks and harassment are on the increase for lorry drivers from customers, and it is believed that many more incidents go unreported.

Taxi drivers run the gauntlet any time they venture out for a Friday/Saturday night shift and pick up a drunken mob, but of course this is the most lucrative time of the week for them.

An on-board camera system will not eliminate violent issues, but might at least discourage attacks. Taxi drivers in some UK towns can actually be liable to legal punishment for deliberately refusing fares, although this is at the local authority’s discretion.