Drink and Drugs! Don’t spoil Christmas.

Everybody’s festive calendar will be busy with Christmas parties in full swing and a busy period with family and friends. Unfortunately, the down side to this is the extra temptation to over indulge, not only with food but also with alcohol and possibly drugs, without thinking about the catastrophic consequences that could follow.

With regards to drink driving, recent figures released by safety charity Brake detail the statistics especially within younger drivers. However, this is an issue that crosses all age groups and occupations with more people prepared to take a risk at this time of year. The age old question will be asked far too often over the coming weeks: ‘One for the road?’

This is the question that all lorry drivers should know the answer to at any time of the year and not just at Christmas. The obvious answer will be further re-enforced by numerous police authorities now the Government’s THINK! road safety campaign, highlighting the effects of drink-driving, has been launched. However, with the changes to the drug–driving laws earlier this year, the risks are twofold.

Andrew Drewary CMILT, Consultant Collision Analyst, for 3Sixty Fleet (www.3-sixtysolutions.co.uk) says; “The irony in the question should not be lost on all those who work within the industry and not just the lorry drivers but everyone who has an active role within the industry has to take responsibility”.

With the Christmas rush well and truly upon us the industry is dealing with its annual challenges at this extremely demanding time of year. This is more so this year, given the well publicised driver shortage being experienced and the ever increasing customer demand to have something now. As a result, many companies will be relying on their drivers to do overtime or sometimes relying more heavily on agency drivers to fill the void.

Everyone wants to enjoy themselves with family and friends as they should at Christmas. However, with most lorry drivers working a ‘4 on 4 off’ shift pattern, there is a greater risk that they will be able to book their calendars with a number of events to attend within their rest period.

Drewary says: “The shift pattern allows lorry drivers to attend successive events over the Christmas period and it is easy for them to lose track of how much they have been drinking. These are professional drivers and the majority will enjoy the festivities and behave responsibly. However, there will be a few who will not. Drinking or taking drugs over a period of time will mean they are driving illegally when they return to work due to the morning after effect”.

During this period, everyone within the industry needs to accept greater responsibility and be fully aware of the condition of their drivers when they turn up for a shift. There are numerous tell tale signs that highlight the physical condition of a driver attending work and if there are any doubts the driver should be challenged to justify their fitness to work. It should not just be left to the Transport Manager to deal with this awkward situation but every colleague should be prepared to challenge a driver.

Unfortunately, the tell tale signs of the physical condition of a driver are harder to identify if employing an agency driver, due to the lack of familiarity. This should make everyone more vigilant and prepared to accept the greater responsibility.

Drewary continues: ‘Meeting the demands of customers is essential at this time of year. However, companies have a Corporate Social Responsibility to ensure that their employees are fit to work, but not at all costs. Failure to take the relevant actions, regardless of how unpleasant they may be at the time, could have catastrophic consequences and could be devastating for all involved.’

Companies need to have robust Work Related Road Risk policies in place that include specific measures at this time of year i.e. increased compulsory and random alcohol and drug tests. This will ensure the safety of employees and the public. As long as the measures are implemented fairly and without discrimination, then everyone will be happy to co-operate because the benefits will be worth it.

So let’s hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

3Sixty Fleet provides independent fleet risk management solutions which have been specifically designed to assist the industry to change the way in which it deals with fleet risk management and manage its worked related road risk. If you want to know about what they can do for you then contact us on 0845 388 3883 or Andrew Drewary on 07817 043821 or andy@3-sixtysolutions.co.uk