When employing a new driver, do you simply check their licence and entitlements, and then never look at it again? If so, you could be setting your business up for problems down the line – your drivers’ competence and legality is actually your responsibility, and while they have a duty to inform you as their employer of anything that may affect your work, you are legally obliged to keep track of their fitness and ability to work.
Do you know if any of your drivers have received points on their licences while driving their own vehicles? Or if they are taking medication which could impact on their ability to drive? Some hayfever treatments can have a highly sedative effect, and medicines prescribed by doctors can often have serious contraindications that include not driving while taking them. Identifying driver impairments and checking fitness to drive are crucial to every transport operation and it's important to establish a robust checking process.
One way to check drivers on a regular basis is to add questions to their daily walk round check, either on paper or on an app. Questions such as “Have you had an alcoholic drink in the last 12 hours?” or “Have you started taking any medication that could affect your ability to drive?” offer an opportunity to remind employees of their obligations, can prompt them to consider their behaviour and open up discussions if you suspect they are not fit to drive.
It’s worth remembering that, according to the NHS, the body can take up to two hours to break down one pint of lager or beer, or three hours for a glass of wine, after consumption, and obviously that time frame extends the more alcohol that is consumed. So just going to bed with a pint of water after a long summer BBQ session may not be enough to ensure that the driver is 100% fit and sober to drive the morning after. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and if you suspect something is wrong, stop them from driving. Those who are hungover are often impaired, with slower reaction times and less likelihood to assess potential hazards as a result.
The Van Excellence film 'One Fateful Day' highlights the potential impact of driver distraction for the driver, operations manager and company owner. A van driver who has taken drugs is involved in a fatal collision with a child and the film explores the devastating consequences. Watch the whole film here: Youtube - theftachannel