Driver welfare

Driver wellbeing includes the factors that keep drivers safe, happy and engaged with the job that they do

November 22, 2017
by Martin Duval

From the October 2017 print edition

We’re moving into the cooler months of the year, which means the cold and flu season and winter driving

Martin Duval is a Shell commercial fleet account manager.

season is fast approaching. Unfortunately, for drivers who are on the go, this means being at risk for catching a bug while also having to navigate the nasty winter roads in Canada. While keeping costs down, managing fuel spend and driver controls remain the top priorities for many fleet managers, there are additional factors that managers should consider when it comes to driver care.

Driver wellbeing includes the factors that keep drivers safe, happy and engaged with the job that they do. This could mean offering new driver training programs or something as simple as providing tips on making healthy food choices while on the road. Research shows that companies that take an interest and create an environment where employees feel their wellbeing is a priority are better at keeping staff, something that continues to be a challenge for the fleet industry that is currently suffering from a shortfall in terms of qualified drivers.

Steps to wellbeing
Communicating and caring for your drivers is the first step to helping build a highly competitive fleet operation. While there are a number of factors that managers should consider regarding driver wellbeing, the top four are:

Quality rest: Although it seems obvious, the importance of quality rest should be communicated to drivers on a regular basis. Driver fatigue remains a major contributor to road accidents, so it’s imperative that drivers are educated and aware of the dangers. Managers can also provide support by putting company policies in place such as a fatigue risk management system or a stop-work policy to ensure drivers make rest a priority.

A safe environment: Education is a fundamental part of safety and drivers can never know too much about keeping themselves and others on the road out of harm’s way. Managers should ensure their drivers have completed a driver-training course and have ongoing training refreshers. At Shell, we use a journey management plan that involves outlining a process that drivers follow when getting on the road.

We also share this with customers who are interested in implementing one of their own. In addition to training, drivers should have a safety kit in their vehicle that contains items such as booster cables, an ice scraper, multi-tool, flashlight, blanket, snacks, reflective triangles and first aid supplies.

Keeping in touch: While managers can put many preventive measures and policies in place to help ensure the safety of their drivers, it’s important that drivers have access to a mobile device while on the road. This will allow drivers to locate the nearest service station or call for roadside assistance, if required. However, it is equally important that the proper technology be in place so that the phone isn’t being used while driving.

Access to healthy food and amenities: For many drivers, the service station is the only stopping point between the depot and their destination. When they are spending many hours on the road, finding a place to rest, stretch their legs or grab a healthy snack is vital. Shell Commercial Fleet customers have access to one of the largest station networks in the country with fresh food and coffee options at their fingertips, allowing them to enjoy the journey ahead.

While some driver wellbeing suggestions may require time, planning and investment, the process of improving driver welfare is important and makes important business sense. However, there are some initial first steps that can be taken right away, including putting the topic of health and safety on the agenda of every team meeting, creating a health and safety challenge and sharing some of the driver success stories to motivate others. Both your drivers and fleet business will benefit in the long run.

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