How driving can impact our mental well-being

This week is Mental Health Awareness week (13th– 19th May), an annual campaign started in 2001 by the Mental Health Foundation aimed at reducing the stigma attached to Mental Health.  With an estimated 1 in 4 people expected to experience a mental health illness at some point in their lives, it’s important to ensure that we encourage our society to open up and talk about mental health and well-being.

Within our industry, driver safety is often at the forefront of our minds, mental health however can sometimes be an afterthought. Fleet Managers are tasked with ensuring our vehicles are road worthy- but what about our drivers?

Lone working, stress and fatigue can all have an impact on mental health & well-being for drivers. Here we discuss the impacts they can have, and what steps can be made to minimise risks.

Stress

A day in the life of any job can be stressful. For drivers, factors such as working long hours, spending time away from family, pressure to deliver goods, traffic, congestion and other road users can all have an impact on stress levels and mental health.

And if drivers are stressed, it can also have an impact on their ability to make decisions and react quickly or appropriately as well as affecting their overall standard of driving.

Fatigue

It is also said that around 20% of incidents on the UK’s roads are related to sleep deprivation. Fatigue-related accidents tend to be more serious as those who are sleep deprived have less ability to react to a situation or take action.

Lone working

Drivers can spend 40+ hours a week by themselves. For some people lone working is a choice, but for others the impact of being alone for prolonged periods of time can have an impact on mental health & well-being.

Managing health and well-being

Mental Health Awareness week is just one example of how to increase awareness of mental health in the workplace and encourage people to be more open about it.

For fleet managers, stress, fatigue and lone working can all pose great risks not only for your driver, but costs and reputation as well.

Recognising and improving the well-being of your drivers, to help alleviate some of the daily stresses can sometimes be done with just some small changes such as:

  • Planning journey routes
  • Ensuring drivers are taking regular breaks
  • Ensuring drivers are getting sufficient downtime between shifts
  • Introducing driver risk management training
  • Regular driving licence checks
  • Providing access to health & well-bring checks

So, not only this week, but every day we should encourage each other to be open about Mental Health, and continue to remove the stigma that is attached to it.

For more information on mental health support, visit www.mentalhealth-uk.org or specifically for the automotive industry https://ben.org.uk/.