Are you distracting your own drivers?

On my way home from the airport recently I took a shuttle bus to the city centre. While the trip was relatively uneventful, it did give me a major insight into how some commercial drivers (in this case a bus driver) are being distracted by their work. My driver, while very friendly and helpful, was constantly distracted by an array of pick up rosters, questions and comments from his radio and at one stage a full scale mobile phone call (no hands free kit). Surely this can’t go on and surely everyone involved here is aware that they are taking an unnecessary risk, but what can we all do?

Why is this a concern?

As noted in our article about driver distraction, the sad fact is that any distraction, no matter how small can cause an accident. The bargaining we do with ourselves as to which distractions we can manage is, in every sense, a form of risk management. We’re not saying that changing the radio station should be banned, but we are saying that even for low level distractions people should be aware that it’s a risk and choose their moments carefully. The case of commercial and fleet drivers is unique as many of these distractions are actually inadvertently imposed by the fleet manager or dispatch office.

What are the causes?

Below are some of the most obvious causes of unnecessary driver distraction for fleet or commercial drivers.

1. Not allowing non-driving time for planning out routes, drop off points or parking.
2. Excessive chatter on radios.
3. Lack of policy around mobile phone use.
4. Requiring drivers to maintain logs and records en route.

While these are all valid, the real problem is that of a lack of foresight by those setting the agenda. Management should be fully aware of the potential distractions and should exercise caution whenever initiating new procedures or practices. A dispatcher should always think “Will our divers be distracted” or in the case of logs and record keeping “Are we giving our drivers enough time or opportunities to fill the details in during non-driving time”.

Final thoughts

Work related distractions are very different to the standard distractions we all see in our day to day drive. Fleet and commercial drivers will feel pressured to accommodate work related distractions into their work even in cases where it actually impacts their driving. It is down to management and dispatch offices to be 100% aware of the potential distractions they are imposing on their drivers. Once these potential distractions are documented it’s then a case of either eliminating them or allocating non-driving time for them to be addressed. In the end drivers have enough other distractions to deal with, especially when passengers are thrown into the mix, so why expose them to even more risks and distractions?

Have you seen any examples of commercial drivers being distracted?

Do you think the situation is getting worse?

Please comment below.

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