5 August 2020

As the COVID-19 lockdown eases, more and more companies are beginning to schedule their fleet drivers to get back on the road. If you’re one of them, you might be keen to create a safe driving programme for your employees to protect them from infection.

This is why we have created a list of simple preventative ways to ensure your drivers are COVID-19-safe whilst on the road. Here are the systems you can create and advice you can give to your drivers when they resume their jobs.

Hygiene and disinfection

As we have been reminded during the pandemic, washing hands frequently and thoroughly is the best way to keep the spread of infection in check. Remind your employees to scrub their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before they leave their home and as soon as they return. They should also do so throughout the day. If soap and water are not available, then they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Additionally, they should disinfect their vehicle, keys, credit or debit cards, and mobile phones before they start driving and when they return home.

When wiping their vehicle, special care should be taken of the frequently touched areas, like door handles, steering wheel, gear stick, glove compartment, and dashboard. This is even more important if the vehicle is shared by more than one driver.

Advise them to carry personal protection equipment (PPE), including face masks (starting 24th July, it is compulsory to have a face mask on if you enter a shop), disposable gloves, as well as disinfectant spray and wipes, and hand sanitiser. These should be used when appropriate.

They could also carry a small rubbish bag with them in the vehicle to dispose of the wipes and gloves they use. This can then be thrown away as per guidelines at the end of the day.

 

driver wearing a face mask, spraying the steering wheel with a disinfectant whilst holding a towel to wipe it with

 

Planning breaks

Fatigue can be dangerous for drivers. It can lead to accidents, causing injuries to their person and damage to the vehicle. Moreover, accidents also increase the likelihood of coming in contact with other people. This, of course, increases the possibility of getting infected.

In order to ensure they aren’t tired while they drive, instruct your drivers to take regular rest breaks. They also need to be aware that when planning their rest breaks, certain locations on their route might be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, they also need to prepare for diversions and road closures.

If they do stop for a meal or break, they should avoid busy places. Face masks do help protect them to a degree, but they should always maintain social distancing, wash their hands and sanitise as much as possible before they get into the vehicle.

Tiredness can also be caused by being behind the wheel for too many hours. In this respect, you can ensure your drivers’ safety while on the road by making sure they aren’t scheduled to drive for too many hours. Telemetry, as well as resource management tools, can help you plan your workers’ time better.

Customer contact

If your drivers have to interact with customers, advise them to keep a 2m distance, if possible. You could invest in technology that allows them to conduct transactions with minimal contact. This includes contactless or online payment, and online paperwork.

Online paperwork is something you can also use for internal documentation, allowing you to reduce physical contact between employees. Again, online fleet management tools can help you with that.

 

Driver using a phone to make contactless payment from inside his car

 

Mental well-being

In addition to taking care of their physical health while they are on the road, it is equally important to protect your employees’ mental health. In this time of uncertainty, it is quite natural to be stressed. It is important that you support drivers if they are finding the situation difficult to deal with.

However, it is equally important for them to understand how their coping mechanisms might affect their safety on the road. If they aren’t eating well or sleeping well, it will add to their driving fatigue.

Alternatively, if they are taking medication to cope with anxiety or sleeplessness, this too could affect the way they drive. Additionally, if they are consuming more alcohol than normal, that would also impede their performance on the road.

In order for you to create a safe driving programme for your employees, they need to be able to communicate their mental state to you, as well honestly telling you if they are in any way unable to drive safely, by making a ‘fit to drive’ declaration.

Feeling unwell

If your employees are feeling unwell, or displaying any symptoms of COVID-19, as defined by the NHS, tell them to take time off to self-isolate. It is better to quarantine than risk spreading the disease among colleagues as well as customers.

Back to work app

In response to the COVID-19 situation, sgfleet launched a ‘Back to Work’ programme in association with FleetCheck. Available via a portal and app, the programme can be used to get drivers back on the road in the safest and most efficient way possible. The app includes a ‘fit to drive’ declaration, fleet check and pre-use check for vehicles, as well as driver support resources.

Please send an email if you would like more information about the programme.

Further reading

During the COVID-19 lockdown, we at sgfleet have been working hard to give our customers the support they need. We understand that just because your business may not be operating like it used to, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to optimise operations and help your employees upgrade their skills. Here are some of the resources we offer to help you at this time.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you during these unprecedented times, get in touch by calling us on 0844 854 5100 or emailing CSalmon@sgfleet.com.

A hand wearing a white disposable glove opening the door of a car