HOW TO HANDLE LONG DAYS ON THE ROAD

09/03/2016

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For professional drivers, and people who have to drive long distances for other work purposes, a long journey is an everyday occurrence. But did you know that it’s bound by the same guidelines as driving work vehicles on a construction site? The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘Driving at Work’ guidelines require all fleet managers and employers of people driving on public roads to carry out risk assessments, and put best practices in place to protect staff and members of the public.

A risk assessment for driving at work should help your fleet to handle long days on the road: safely, effectively, and efficiently. We’ve put together some key safety elements for you to think about.

Look at the best time to travel

Travelling during rush hour is time consuming and ineffective. It’s also a guaranteed way to add stress and extra time on the road, both factors that can make your drivers tire quicker or lose concentration. If possible, plan every journey to take place before or after rush hour: factoring in proper time for sleep and driver rests (see ‘Don’t drive tired’ below for information on statutory driver hours).

Set driver schedules: limit hours on the road

Create an in-house guide for your drivers, which works with statutory rules for professional driving hours to specify how long they can be on the road. You should also specify how much rest they must take between spells on the road; the frequency of rest stops; and the length of time that must pass between the end of one journey or working day and the beginning of the next. Factor proper overnight stops into journeys that take more than one day.

Plan your route

Advance route planning is key to minimising stress on long journeys. Monitor traffic conditions and select a route that combines known safety factors with current road conditions. For example, fewer accidents happen on dual carriageways and motorways than on single-lane A roads. But some stretches of dual carriageway or motorway can become impossible during peak driving hours. Be prepared to switch to backup routes if changing traffic conditions demand it.

Don’t drive tired

Driving tired is as dangerous as driving under the influence of drink or drugs: and yet 66% of drivers fail to plan any rest stops into their routes. It’s vital to stop and rest properly on a long journey. Legally, your drivers must stop for half an hour after 5 hours and 30 minutes of continuous driving: or they must take a total of 45 minutes in breaks for every 8 hours and 30 minutes on the road. In practice, however, this is a required minimum: the Institute of Advanced Motoring advises drivers to take a rest every two hours on long journeys.

It’s also vital to understand the link between hydration and concentration. Even minor dehydration can have a similar effect on concentration as alcohol consumption, affecting driver decisions and risk taking. Train your drivers to travel with a bottle of water—one that’s easy to access, and safe to drink from while driving.

Manage your fuel

Long journeys mean high fuel consumption. Avoid high costs by filling up before you go, setting a safe speed limit for your drivers, and planning refuelling stops at known points along the route. You can find out more about planned refuelling in our ‘ Plan your fuel stops with fuelGenie satnav’ article.

How do you help your drivers to handle long days on the road? Let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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