HR BLOG: How’s my driving?

Ever waited in all day for a delivery to arrive? Watching the clock and spamming the website to check the status of your parcel?

It can be stressful. But not half as stressful apparently as it is for the drivers. Some shocking practices were uncovered this week by BBC journalists that demonstrate a real lack of welfare for agency drivers at international retailer Amazon.

For the drivers, apparently pushed to the point where they’re having to break speed limits and use their vehicles as makeshift bathrooms, the pressure to make a delivery slot is obviously too high. They’re working long hours with limited breaks, and often without the National Minimum Wage.

You can find more info about this here, including Amazon’s response. But the implications of this are much wider. All businesses with drivers on their books have legal responsibilities for their staff to maintain their own welfare and that of other road users. And these aren’t just restricted to those that are delivering your Christmas orders. All businesses with staff paid to drive have them; be they engineers, sales reps, HGV drivers or simply staff driving to the post office.

Employers don’t have it easy. There are a plethora of regulations regarding driving. But some of the most common causes of accidents are not legislated for. Brake, the safe driving charity, discovered in a survey that one in four drivers have not had an eye test in the last two years. The only time eyesight is checked is during the driving test. Drivers have to read a number plate 20 meters away. Regular tests for poor vision or medical conditions that can impair driving should be part of the business plan. It could even reduce your insurance.

The other shocking news recently was the driver who, although his eyesight was no doubt fine, chose not to look at the road, but look down at his mobile phone. As a result, he ploughed into a car killing three members of a family. Two seconds looking away was all it took.  It’s illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone when driving, and most firms will have a mobile phone policy. But is it followed up with regular reminders? With the media asking members of the public to report drivers on their phones, this is an area to watch.

How many drivers do you see smoking at the wheel? Whether it’s in an HGV, a white van or a saloon car, if they are driving for work it is illegal. Of course most drivers if caught will immediately claim it was an e-cigarette, so make sure your policy covers those too!

The winter weather cometh, and although we all secretly yearn for a white Christmas (ok we are hopelessly romantic at The HR Dept), this brings all the additional nightmares of keeping a fleet moving safely. And we have not even mentioned drink and drugs!

So this isn’t comprehensive list, but if you employ staff that drive on company time, make sure you’re clued up, or ask us to help. Drivers, however little or far they drive, are your responsibility. Your reputation could be in tatters if one of your drivers is in a serious accident. Remember two seconds was all it took.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.