Pandemic exposes underlying hardships faced by working drivers

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A new study by IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, has exposed the underlying hardships faced by working drivers that were already prevalent before the pandemic and are now likely to worsen.

The newly-released whitepaper paints a worrying picture for workers who drive for a living. Delivery drivers, taxi and private hire drivers, the gig-economy and even company car drivers face constant pressure to keep up with demand and this, along with resultant fatigue, has a negative impact on their mental and physical health.

The paper also highlights the effect of weak employer strategies, lack of policies and prosecution for health and safety lapses, together with the ever-present strain from doubts over the economy, job security, redundancy and reduction in pay due to furlough.

IAM RoadSmart is therefore calling for urgent changes to be made to support working drivers through a raft of solutions such as driver training, policies, advice and procedures.

These include education and guidance on avoiding driver fatigue and an evaluation of policies and procedures such as the length of the driving day and shifts.

Tony Greenidge, chief executive officer at IAM RoadSmart, said: “What COVID did was expose what in many cases was already there.

“Individuals involved in driving for work were already rushed and under pressure. Post-COVID they probably will be more so because there’s more fear about job security and more pressure on employers to recover lost ground. But at least now we are discussing it.”

IAM RoadSmart also believes further change needs to happen through increased prosecution of liable companies, especially SMEs, as one-third of road safety deaths are people driving for business, while there should also be a review on the resources available to drivers, such as motorway services and roadside facilities, as many drivers are deterred from stopping for essential rest due to prices.

Tony added: “People long for everything to go back to normal. The problem is, for many drivers normal wasn’t such a good place.

“The facts cannot be ignored and now is the time for CEOs and leaders to act. COVID-19 has significantly impacted an area already under immense strain. Drivers’ and riders’ safety cannot continue to slip through the net unnoticed.”

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