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How to support a fleet driver's mental health
Across the UK, more conversations are taking place in workplaces surrounding the mental wellbeing of employees. However with the suicide rate of van drivers being 25% higher than the national average, fleet managers still need to take steps to ensure their driver's mental health is made a priority.
A recent survey found that 1 in 5 drivers describe their mental health as poor, which means there is a high likelihood there will be drivers in your fleet that are having the same experience.
Measures, including offering regular catch up sessions and monitoring driving hours, can not only help to prevent the worsening of an employees' mental heath, but it can also lead to a decrease in road traffic accidents, better driver retention and an improvement in productivity.
Organise regular catch ups
It can be easy for drivers to feel disconnected from others while they're out on the roads by themselves. Unlike a typical office environment, drivers can potentially go an entire working day without having any non-work related social interactions which can be detrimental to their mental wellbeing.
It's vital for fleet managers to check in with members of their fleet often to ensure that any concerns drivers have can be addressed promptly. Within these formal or informal catch ups, it's also important for management to be able to recognise any signs of mental illness. This can be achieved through staff training .
Develop a company culture that is open about mental wellbeing
Although organising catch up meetings can be extremely helpful, if drivers don't feel as though their concerns surrounding their mental health are going to be listened to or understood, then this may prevent them from opening up about them. Creating a culture that promotes conversations surrounding mental wellbeing can enable employees to feel comfortable speaking about it to their manager.
Offering company-funded mental wellbeing training courses and sending out helpful resources and links to information on NHS mental health services for drivers to use if they ever need any extra support, is a clear indication to employees that their workplace values their mental health.
Monitor driving hours
Working long hours with few rest periods between and during shifts can cause drivers to become stressed and fatigued. This is made worse during winter months as drivers often feel more tired as a result of darker days.
Preventing drivers from feeling this level of exhaustion not only benefits their mental wellbeing but also helps to make the roads a safer place as driver fatigue is thought to be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road accidents. Ensuring drivers follow the Domestic Rules on van driving hours, which state employees must not drive for more than 10 hours in a day and must not be on duty for more than 11 hours, can help to minimise this risk.
For drivers in your fleet who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that is triggered as the seasons change, winter months can be particularly challenging. Fleet managers should monitor these drivers closely and should consider adapting their schedule so that they are driving at the lightest times of day as much as possible.>> Learn more about preventing incidents caused by driver distraction
Ask for feedback
Encourage drivers to provide the company with feedback on how well they feel they are supported. Do they know who to contact if they have a concern? Are they aware of the laws and policies that protect them at work? How satisfied are they with their working conditions? These are all important questions to be asking drivers to get a good idea of how well your organisation is performing in this area.
The responses received can then be used to make informed decisions on your company's mental health plan and the way it operates as a whole.
Although not the first method that springs to mind when finding ways to support a fleet driver's mental health, telematics data can reveal a considerable amount about how a driver is feeling.
If the data or footage reveals they are speeding more, showing signs of distracted driving including harsh braking, falling asleep at the wheel, or causing more crashes due to any type of risky behaviour, this could be a sign a driver is suffering with their mental health. Software such as the Driver Behaviour Dashboard provides a quick overview of how drivers in a fleet are performing and offers insights into areas such as braking, idling, and the number of accidents a driver was involved in. This can be a really useful way of identifying a driver who might be struggling.
Similarly, the Driver Distraction AI monitors the driver's behaviour, looking for instances of fatigue, and provides alerts in-cab and to a fleet manager. Reports can then be generated to ultimately track and identify any issues drivers are facing. Being aware that a driver in your fleet is regularly tired could be the first steps to getting them the help they need.
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