Scenario - One of your trucks is involved in a crash resulting from the driver falling asleep at the wheel. The driver ploughed onto the hard shoulder and fortunately no-one was injured. Following the crash you wish to conduct an occupational road risk review but are unsure how to review the way you manage the risks associated with driver fatigue.
Solution - Driver fatigue is an important issue facing the haulage industry. As such it requires careful management. Carrying out the appropriate risk assessments is vital but the wide range of possible causes of fatigue amongst drivers suggests the need to go further and consider developing a comprehensive and proactive driver welfare and monitoring programme designed to holistically manage the fatigue risk.
Sleep apnoea for example, is a particularly serious risk for drivers and if not diagnosed and treated, could prove fatal for the driver and other road users. Consequently, serious consideration should be given to introducing a sleep apnoea screening programme.
Other causes may include natural time of day/ body clock issues, sleep factors, other health factors such as narcolepsy and inappropriate drug and alcohol use, work factors such as those resulting from unrealistic delivery schedules and two-up driving issues such as being unable to sleep properly when not driving.
'Flash for Cash' Scam
Scenario – One of your drivers approaches a T junction. The driver stops to wait for a gap in the traffic before pulling out to turn right. A car flashes its lights to indicate that the driver was happy to let your lorry pull out across his path. In a matter of seconds, the car rams into the side of your truck. The driver of the car then claims that your driver was entirely to blame and that he and a couple of other occupants were experiencing pains in their neck. No one else witnessed what happened and your driver is left in a difficult position and seemingly in the wrong.
Solution – ‘Flash for cash’ scams are becoming more widespread and is a variation on the ‘crash for cash’ scams that have been a problem for a number of years.
The Highway Code makes it clear that flashing of headlights is only meant to be used a means of indicating that you are there. That said, most drivers will be very familiar with a flash of the headlights being used as a gesture of courtesy, for example to let someone out in front of you. It is therefore understandable that your driver would pull out into the road. The arrival of ‘flash for cash’ has meant that drivers should take more caution whenever someone flashes their lights seemingly as a courtesy gesture. In terms of the scenario above, if there were no other witnesses and the case were to go to court, the outcome would depend on the validity of the claimants injuries and the credibility of the claimant(s).