Is ‘One for the road’ one too many?

Everybody’s festive calendars will be getting booked up now we are well into December. As usual, the age old question will be asked far too often in the coming weeks: ‘Have one for the road?’ That is the question that all lorry drivers should know the answer to at any time of the year and not just at Christmas. How-ever, the temptation is greater when the festivities get into full swing.

The question and the obvious answer will be further re-enforced by numerous police authorities over the coming weeks now they have launched their festive ‘drink – drive’ awareness safety campaigns.

Andrew Drewary CMILT, Consultant Accident Analyst, working on behalf of 3Sixty Fleet Solutions says; ‘The irony in the question should not be lost on all those who work within the industry and not just the lorry drivers. Everyone who has an active role within the industry has to take responsibility, if they feel one of their drivers is unfit to go out on the road.’

With Christmas rush well 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 by companies and fears that deliveries and demand may not be met. Many companies will be relying

on their drivers to do overtime or relying more heavily on agency drivers to fill the void.

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

Drewary says: ‘The shift pat-tern allows lorry drivers to attend successive events over the Christmas period and it is easy to lose track of how much they have been drinking. These are professional drivers and the majority will enjoy the festivities rand behave responsibly. However, there will be a few who will not. Drinking 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 he fitness to work. It should not just be left to the Transport Manager to deal with this awkward situation but every col-league 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 Responsibility to ensure that their employees are fit 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 should look at introducing special measures at this time of year ie: compulsory or random breath tests. This will ensure the safety of employees and the public. The introduction of these special measures should be dis-cussed fully with all employees in advance so everyone knows what is going one and any issues can be looked into further. 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 Christmas and Happy New Year!