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Fleet considerations for operators as more users return to the roads

Fleet considerations for operators as more users return to the roads

As things start to return slowly to a more normal pattern of working – more people will be returning to the roads. A combination of more people moving around again as well as a recommendation to avoid public transport where possible means that road traffic will almost certainly increase after a period of reduced road activity. So – how does this impact your fleet and what are the main considerations for fleet managers?

Other road users

Whilst the UK has been in lockdown the amount of traffic on the roads has, of course, fallen dramatically. There have been over half a million SORN applications to the DVLA in recent weeks as people have taken their unused cars, vans or trucks off the road. Other figures show that as many as one third of UK drivers have purchased no fuel in the past month. Commercial drivers may well have gotten used to the quieter roads with those who have not been driving as much over the last 10 weeks or so perhaps becoming less used to driving and possibly less confident as a result. This, coupled with perhaps more cyclists and pedestrians on the roads, could mean an increased risk to other road users. Make sure your drivers are aware of this possible increased risk.

Vehicle maintenance

During the recent period of decreased economic activity, it may be the case that some businesses as well as other, private road users, have paid less attention to vehicle maintenance, in an effort to reduce costs. It is important to make sure that vehicle maintenance standards have not slipped over this period. Any vehicles which have been off the road should be thoroughly checked before being returned to service to ensure that they meet all the required standards for safety.

MOT exemptions

As a result of the COVD-19 pandemic, The Department of Transport made changes to the requirement for vehicles to have a 12 month MOT check, automatically extending the MOT on all vehicles where the MOT was due for a further 6 months from 30th March. This could mean that a number of private vehicles on the road will be driving around without having had a basic safety check for some time. Again, fleet operators should pay special attention to ensuring that drivers use extra awareness in respect of other road users.

Driver welfare

The events of the past few months have had a lasting impact on us all in one way or another. For some, the main difficulties have been associated with increased stress, perhaps relating to money or employment concerns. For others, the impact may have been more in relation to health concerns, either for themselves or loved ones. Some fleet drivers may also be under pressure due to increased work hours. Stress and pressure can lead people to suffer from loss of concentration or even force them into taking time off sick. It is crucial that issues around driver welfare are not forgotten during this period, both to ensure you are doing your duty as an employer by looking after driver welfare, but also to minimise business disruption due to sickness. Ensuring that drivers continue to receive regular rest breaks (despite a relaxation of the rules around this) and have recourse to the kind of support they require is essential.

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