Lone Worker Safety for Your Fleet Drivers
The transportation industry is expected to grow to $7.2B in 2022. The number of drivers on the road, both fleet and non-fleet, has grown significantly and shows no sign of slowing.
But unfortunately, so too have the hazards.
Fleet drivers face many health and safety risks while on the road, ranging from vehicle breakdowns to sudden illness. When drivers are traveling alone, the risks are heightened.
So how can companies reduce the safety risks for drivers? Let’s take a look at common safety concerns and how transportation companies can navigate these to keep drivers safe.
What are the risks to lone fleet drivers?
Drivers can encounter many dangers while on the road — whether alone or with passengers, on the clock or off. Every time we step into a vehicle, we are assuming a level of risk. But safety concerns are compounded for lone fleet drivers, and it’s vital for businesses to be aware of the dangers.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common risks, and then below, we’ll discuss strategies that transportation companies can put in place to help avoid them.
Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. No matter how experienced your drivers are, factors will never totally be in their control. Weather conditions and behaviors of other drivers on the road can always create the potential for accidents.
Transportation vehicles that aren’t regularly checked and maintained are at a greater risk for breakdown. Getting stranded leaves drivers in potentially unsafe situations and is always a stressful experience — especially if the breakdown occurs in a remote area.
Drivers who are fatigued were responsible for 100,000 accidents in 2021. Driving while makes it difficult to focus and slows reaction times.
This is an especially important risk to consider for drivers who do not have a coworker with them on the road to help keep them alert and hold them accountable to safe practices. Some drivers will continue to drive when fatigued to meet deliveries and stay on route, which can put themselves and others on the road in danger.
Violence from the general public is always a concern for fleet drivers, especially when parked to sleep. Companies should be particularly cognizant of this risk when it comes to lone female drivers.
Sudden illness, like a stomach bug or the flu, can impact driver safety. As with fatigue, continuing to drive when feeling sick can affect a driver’s ability to react quickly and safely.
Mental health and well-being
Drivers struggling with high levels of stress, mental health issues, or other well-being issues can also be more prone to accidents.
How to improve lone worker safety for your fleet drivers
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 states that employers have a “duty of care” towards their workers. According to Collins Dictionary, duty of care is “the legal obligation to safeguard others from harm while they are in your care, using your services, or exposed to your activities.”
While employers need to take measures to ensure the health and well-being of the people who work for them on their premises, this also applies to those workers on the road.
There are several ways companies and managers can improve the safety of lone fleet drivers. Before implementing any changes, managers should conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine what issues their drivers are the most concerned about. This will help you tackle the most important areas first.
It’s important to complete this assessment from the lone driver viewpoint. Safety procedures put into place for employees who work with others are not necessarily applicable for lone drivers.
Drivers should be trained in a variety of relevant areas, covering everything from how to sit properly to avoid back pain to a rigorous understanding of occupational and road safety laws and best practices. Drivers must know how to act in case of breakdown, what steps to take if their truck is stolen, and the best safety measures to take while driving.
If possible, drivers should be trained thoroughly on the inner workings of their vehicles, and know how to do basic maintenance so that they can get back on the road in the case of a minor mechanical issue.
Drivers should be knowledgeable about company lodging policies and know how and where to book a room if they need to change course or stop sooner than expected due to fatigue or weather conditions.
There’s an app for everything! Portable automated and AI supported technology can provide a wealth of safety functionality that can increase employee protection.
Benefits of modern apps designed for lone fleet workers include automated crash detection, programmable safety checkpoints for lone workers, round the-clock emergency call centers and discreet no-touch emergency SOS capability.
Technological advances have also enabled detection of phone handling when driving and recognition of ‘impaired driving.’ As the rapid digital transformation continues, it’s expected that we’ll see further advances that enable lone drivers to feel even safer at work.
Using a centralized hotel booking platform like Hotel Engine also offers app-based capabilities like being able to find and book a room from the road. Managers and dispatchers also have visibility into where drivers are staying for the night so that they can locate them in case of an emergency.
Solid communication models
Drivers need to stay connected while on the road. Solid communication models make sure this happens. Companies must make sure drivers are equipped with several ways to get in touch, as cell phone signal is not always reliable.
Drivers who are tired or suddenly become ill should not be afraid to contact a manager. If a manager is not available, processes should be in place so that staff knows what steps to take to alert someone that they are not well. A solid communication model is a must for fleet management companies.
Regularly monitoring staff to ensure breaks are taken is a must. By keeping tabs on drivers, managers and dispatch centers can ensure that they are not driving continuously for an unsafe period of time.
This also includes knowing where they are on the road in case of an emergency. Drivers are always on the go and rarely have anyone checking in directly — instead, modern technology enables real-time tracking and automatic check-in points.
Carriers report that drivers feel safer sleeping behind the locked door of a hotel room. Steve Bramble, director of talent acquisition for Holland, explained that this policy drew drivers to his organization, as not all carriers book rooms for their drivers. In hotels, drivers get better rest, which means they are less likely to deal with the negative effects of fatigue while on the road. And while there is an added cost for lodging, it’s a small price to pay to ensure the safety of both your workers and your equipment.
If the thought of booking hotels for your drivers seems overwhelming, know that it doesn’t have to be. With Hotel Engine, you can book for your entire fleet in minutes without paying for a big travel management software contract (in fact, the platform is free to use!) or having to price shop numerous consumer booking sites.
With a vast inventory of available properties, there are always rooms available where drivers need them — not just in the major cities. That means that if they have an emergency or need to make an unexpected stop, they won’t have to go far out of their way to find somewhere comfortable to sleep. Learn more about our services here.
Get started with Hotel Engine
Hotel Engine is built for businesses, and we work with hundreds of transportation companies to help them provide the best experience for their employees. We offer a free suite of tools to help streamline the entire lodging process from booking to billing and offer an all-in-one dashboard for tracking trips so you can better ensure duty of care for your fleet drivers.
Get started today to unlock exclusive savings at more than 700,000 hotels, including properties in remote and rural locations.
Cara Meglio is a Copywriter at Hotel Engine. She assists with content creation, researching and writing articles to help businesses improve their travel experience and discover helpful solutions with Hotel Engine. Cara has a passion for travel of all types. Based in Denver, CO, Cara loves exploring the Mountain West as well as international destinations.