A series of more than 200 safety audits on company fleets found many are running the safety gauntlet by not having policies in place that safeguard against the potential danger.
The findings, compiled by risk management company Risk Answers, come soon after reports that the labelling of some over-the-counter medicines is inconsistent, inaccurate and maybe dangerous. (Fleet NewsNet May 30). A Department for Transport study, undertaken by Loughborough University's Sleep Research Unit, found the recommended range of advisory labels on medicines warning of possible drowsiness are not always followed closely by drug manufacturers.
It is coupled with research suggesting fatigue may be responsible for up to one in 10 accidents on motorways and up to one in 20 on other roads.
Risk Answers sales director Jeremy Hay said: 'Some companies have in place policies with regard to employee drink-driving, or driving while under the influence of illegal substances, but they ignore the use of over-the-counter medicines or prescription drugs.
'There is a responsibility on every employer and employee in this area. This becomes a big issue at this time of year because of hayfever remedies, many of which should not be taken by people who are driving.
'The effect of the medicines on reaction times can be the same as alcohol and this needs to be taken more seriously.'
Hay said companies should now rewrite their fleet policies to include rules and advice relating to medicines. Such changes may also require contracts of employment to be rewritten to ensure any disciplinary action against employees does not lead to an industrial tribunal.
Risk Answers general manager Peter Mason said many fleets relate the word drugs to banned substances and not common medicines.
He added: 'Employees should not drive if they are taking any substance that may affect their ability to do so safely. It is their responsibility to inform their doctor or chemist that they drive as part of their employment and to heed the resulting advice.'