Employees suffering from stress were 50% more likely to drive dangerously and thus be involved in crashes, according to John Sunderland Wright, training director at Performance on Demand.
Drivers’ health and well-being was critical to their behaviour on the road, Mr Sunderland Wright told FIAG workshop delegates highlighting that the heart and brain were the two key areas of the body “massively effected” by stress.
“Stress can inhibit personal performance,” said Mr Sunderland Wright. “High levels of stress causes the brain to do far too much and that causes problems, which for drivers manifests itself in road crashes.”
Employee surveys frequently highlighted that stress and tiredness were issues for them but, said Mr Sunderland Wright, sleeping for eight to nine hours per night was a solution. He also advised that continually hydrating the body with water was vital as dehydration reduced concentration and reaction levels by 20%.
With driver stress being a significant contributory factor to road crashes, Mr Appleby reminded delegates that it was a major focus for the HSE in improving work-related road safety.
He told delegates: “Are drivers so stressed that they cannot do their job properly? Employers must look at their work-related road safety policies and ensure that employees that drive on businesses have the opportunity to have their views on such issues heard.”
The FIAG workshop debate on the health and well-being of drivers concluded that it was “a hot topic” and it was important that “a massive knowledge gap” across employers was filled.
Delegates suggested that many employers were “reactive” and not “proactive” in managing employees and only reacted with new policies and procedures following an “incident”.
As a result, Geoffrey Bray, chairman of FIAG, which was launched four years ago to enable fleet decision-makers to share fleet industry best practice and knowledge, said: “It is vital that employees that drive on business are given advice and information on how to relieve stress and be less tired. Information should not just be written into a company car policy, but there should be conversations and drivers should be empowered to speak up. Drivers are part of the solution and not simply the problem.”