Fleet News

'Nomadic' company drivers present safety challenge

A NEW study of company car drivers has discovered a generation of 'nomadic workers' whose occupational risks must be addressed by employers, car makers and mobile phone firms. The research into the lives of fleet drivers, entitled 'Meet you at Junction 17', was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and carried out by academics at Glasgow University.

They shadowed fleet drivers who spend as much as 80% of their working week out on the road, living lives which present a serious challenge for safety-conscious fleets. 'There is perhaps a reluctance on the part of policy-makers, business people and car manufacturers to admit the extent to which the mobile office is now a feature of working life,' it said.

'Policy surrounding health and safety at work needs to take into account the distinctive environment of occupational hazards and daily risks and stresses that mobile workers face. Recognition is needed of the car journey as work. For mobile workers who travel large distances, their 5am starts and 11pm arrivals at home are still not formally treated as work hours by their employers.'

Employees certainly count driving time as working time, with drivers making the most of hours behind the wheel to catch up on office work, and 'Meet you at Junction 17' found that activities which were previously associated mainly with office buildings are now carried out in company cars. But widespread and almost continuous use of mobile phones does, however, present safety risks by preventing drivers from paying total attention to the road ahead, and the report calls on car makers to take such drivers into account in designing and specifying a car.

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