Work and driving schedules can be complex tasks to manage, especially in challenging economic conditions and growing security concerns indirectly impact the practice of safe driving. While we lack specific data regarding how this affects South African drivers, we can reasonably infer that the outcomes, particularly in terms of speeding, will likely resemble those observed in developed countries.
A survey conducted by Mix Telematics among motorists in Britain, France, Germany, and Spain has unveiled some concerning trends. Approximately 63% of drivers confess to exceeding speed limits during their daily commutes, with more than a third (34%) admitting to doing so every week. The most common reasons for this behaviour include the need to keep pace with traffic flow (53%) and the pressure to meet tight schedules (37%). Companies often demand higher productivity from their employees, sometimes overlooking the adverse consequences of such demands on road safety.
Regarding the locations where drivers tend to exceed speed limits, over 40% of those who acknowledge speeding during work-related driving admit to doing so on motorways, main roads, and urban areas.
It is worth noting that the impact of drivers’ working hours restrictions on vehicle routing has mainly been underexplored in the existing literature. Regulations governing drivers’ working hours can significantly influence total travel times, encompassing driving time, breaks, and rest periods.
Considering drivers’ working hours in vehicle routing and scheduling holds extraordinary importance in enhancing safety and punctuality within road freight transport. Motor carriers must structure drivers’ work schedules to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. However, the increasing pressure to adhere to just-in-time delivery philosophies often pushes drivers to engage in unsafe practices to meet demand and deadlines.
Safety and the Influence of Irregular Work Schedules
As a consequence, drivers acquire skills and habits that can profoundly impact an organisation’s overall safety culture. Therefore, all employees must be integrated into the safety culture across all company levels. Research indicates that cultivating a solid safety culture necessitates all organisation members’ active involvement and commitment. Thus, management should prioritise safety to foster a robust safety culture.
Management’s commitment to safety measures can mitigate the impact of risks at all levels. Conversely, insufficient commitment from management to safety can reduce employees’ dedication to safety practices at work, potentially increasing the likelihood of workplace accidents.
Irregular work schedules pose a safety risk, often resulting in decreased driving performance. Prior studies suggest that individuals with non-standard work schedules may struggle to meet their sleep requirements, leading to impaired driving performance. This highlights the significance of addressing irregular shifts frequently unavoidable in road transportation. The psychological impact of road traffic accidents affects the direct participants and their families.
What Can Be Done:
To address these safety concerns, it is essential to monitor and manage work schedules to discourage unsafe driving practices by:
- Mandating that professional drivers of heavy commercial and light commercial vehicles and buses adhere to driver hours regulations and Driver CPC requirements (if applicable).
- Ensuring that taxi drivers comply with taxi operation regulations.
- Requiring non-commercial drivers to take 15-minute breaks every two hours of driving.
What Drivers Can Do:
Conduct a Vehicle Pre-check:
Before embarking on a journey, verify that seatbelts are functional and in good condition, mirrors are clean and properly adjusted, windscreen wipers are correctly positioned and operational, and all lights are available and clean. Additionally, ensure tires are adequately inflated and have sufficient tread.
Report Issues Promptly:
If you suspect any faults or problems with the vehicle, refrain from driving until a professional has assessed it. Never go if there are doubts about the vehicle’s roadworthiness, and report any issues immediately.
Ensure Proper Licensing:
Ensure you possess the appropriate license for the specific size and type of vehicle you intend to operate, whether for cars, motorcycles, HGVs, forklift trucks, etc.
Plan Your Journey:
Evaluate the necessity of your trip and consider alternative, safer transportation options if possible. If travel is unavoidable, plan your route carefully, avoiding accident-prone areas and high-traffic congestion zones whenever feasible.
Check Weather Conditions:
Before travelling, check weather forecasts. If adverse weather is anticipated, consider postponing or cancelling your journey. If you proceed with your trip, allocate extra time, carry winter emergency equipment, and stock up on essential supplies such as a shovel, warm clothing, blankets, a mobile phone, food, and water.
Take Regular Breaks:
Incorporate regular breaks into your journey, following the recommended 15-minute break every two hours of driving.
Adhere to Traffic Laws:
Obey speed limits, wear seatbelts, refrain from using mobile phones while driving unless the vehicle is parked, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you require glasses or contact lenses for driving, always wear them.
Promptly inform your manager of any changes that could affect your ability to drive legally, such as health issues, penalties, accidents, and other relevant factors.
In conclusion, addressing the complex interplay between economic challenges, security concerns, and safe driving practices is paramount for individuals and organisations. The survey findings underscore the prevalence of speeding among drivers, highlighting the need for a concerted effort to promote road safety.
To mitigate these risks, proactive measures such as managing work schedules, adhering to regulations, and fostering a strong safety culture within organisations are essential. Equally important is the drivers’ responsibility to conduct thorough vehicle checks, plan journeys thoughtfully, and comply with traffic laws.
These actions can contribute to a safer and more responsible road environment, reducing accidents, injuries, and the broader societal impacts of unsafe driving practices. Prioritising road safety remains a shared responsibility, with individuals, employers, and authorities all playing crucial roles in achieving this goal.
Cairnmead Industrial Consultants offers a distinctive consulting experience within Health and Safety. Our approach champions simplicity, recognizing that safety is not solely achieved through knowledge but also through comprehension. Our mission revolves around facilitating our clients’ understanding. We distil our extensive knowledge and proficiency into accessible, practical information.
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