Five tips for happier driving
Wellbeing is fast becoming recognised as one of the main factors driving employee satisfaction and company performance.
Wellness is one of the big trends of the moment, as we all realise that taking care of ourselves in an increasingly sedentary society is becoming ever more difficult and time consuming.
Sitting in a car, van or lorry – or in front of a computer – is undoubtedly a fairly unhealthy way to spend the working day. Although we wouldn’t go so far as Apple CEO Tim Cook, who described sitting as the new cancer we believe that fleet managers and drivers need to pay more attention to their wellbeing.
Just thinking about these five basic areas of fleet life can make every driver healthier (if not wealthier and wise).
- Choose your vehicles wisely
As fleet drivers have to sit in their vehicles for extended periods of time, they need to be chosen wisely.
Fleet managers already have numerous criteria that they need to use for selecting a vehicle – efficiency is an obvious priority – but the ergonomics of the cabin are also important.
So ensure that the driver’s seat is fully adjustable and well upholstered, make sure that the controls are well-laid out and easy to reach, and there are plenty of useful storage and stowage places to hand.
- Plan your journeys
Effective planning can alleviate a great deal of the stress that accompanies much of our driving today.
So that means planning every aspect of every trip from the route, the times at which you’re driving, any breaks for refuelling (the car and the driver) before setting off. If you also plan to build a contingency for any unforeseen stops or delays, then you shouldn’t feel rushed and stressed at any point.
And less stress means fewer associated medical problems – heart issues, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, even obesity and the increased possibility of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Eat and drink well
A working life on the road can often mean a snatched meal here, an unhealthy snack there – and, often, way too much coffee.
It’s therefore important to make sure that fleet drivers pay greater attention to their diet, stopping for healthy meals at regular times, avoiding too many sugary or fatty snack foods and drinks (including energy drinks) – and easing back on the caffeine, which is the most widely used drug in the world. Caffeine in the form of coffee or cola drinks might well help to keep drivers awake, but the substance can often create a vicious circle of highs and crashes and fatigued drivers should not be behind the wheel anyway.
On the other hand, driver hydration is important, so fleet drivers should also get into the habit of carrying water in their vehicles with them.
- Make sure they’re rested
For those fleet drivers who don’t have tachographs fitted to their vehicles, it’s important to impress on them the need to be well rested and take frequent, self-regulated breaks in their journeys.
If journeys are well planned, drivers have more time to stop, sit down to have a meal, stretch their legs (at the very least) and still make all their appointments on time.
But it’s also worth impressing on drivers the need to get a good night’s sleep, not drink too much alcohol the night before a trip (especially as alcohol is only removed from the blood at the rate of around one unit an hour) and not to exceed the limit of a maximum of 10 hours driving a day (preferably less).
- Start a company wellness programme
A good way of emphasising your company’s commitment to the health of its fleet drivers is to institute a wellness programme.
This could include free or reduced-cost gym membership, screening programmes, health checks, flu jabs, dietary advice and even help with stopping smoking.
There are numerous obvious benefits to having a healthier workforce, fewer sick days taken and better concentration, leading to fewer collisions, being just two, but it also builds stronger employee relations.
Sitting might not be the new cancer, but neither does it contribute to the healthiest way of life, so anything that fleet managers can do to improve drivers’ wellness will pay dividends in the long run.
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