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Summer driving – guidance for employers

Published: 02/07/15

Insurer QBE has put together their tips for managing drivers in hot weather.

Summer driving brings unique driving challenges: more vehicles on the road, more children playing outside, more tractors, cyclists and motorbikes. Journey times are longer and traffic jams more likely. The following information should help to keep you safe on busy summer roads.

Those who manage drivers need to be aware of these issues and work schedules amended or planned accordingly. As well as planning journeys around holiday traffic jams, managers also need to focus on vehicle condition, plus detailed information provided for drivers on allergies; preventing fatigue and minimising sun glare.

The following information should prove useful for managers to communicate to drivers and maintenance teams.

Vehicle maintenance
• Check vehicle coolant levels more regularly throughout the summer and where available ensure that the air conditioning is working effectively

• Keep washer bottles full and ideally keep an additional bottle of screen wash in the vehicle. Windscreen smears from insects can impair visibility, so windscreens need to be kept clean

• Check tyres for damage and tread depth as hot weather increases the risk of puncture

• Also check tyres for suitable tread depth because sudden summer showers can leave road surfaces flooded or slippery.

Allergy time
Hay fever causes itchy and watery eyes, a blocked and running nose and sneezing, all of which can present a real distraction to drivers. It is advisable to ask those drivers who suffer from hay fever to follow these steps to try and reduce the chance of accident due to allergy distractions:

• Use non-drowsy antihistamines such as Loratadine and Cetirizine

• Dehydration can make symptoms worse so keep a bottle of water in the vehicle

• Keep a good supply of tissues in the vehicle

• Wear sun glasses to keep pollen away from your eyes

• Keep windows closed and use the air conditioning system to keep the vehicle cab cool

Managers should ensure that drivers:

• Regularly vacuum the vehicle cab to remove pollen and monitor pollen count levels

• Are provided with weather warnings when pollen counts are expected to be high

• Provide vehicle purifiers and ionisers to reduce pollen particles in the vehicle cab.

Warm weather fatigue
Your drivers are more likely to feel fatigues in warmer summer months. Tachograph controls will dictate that commercial vehicle drivers take regular breaks, but for those who driver vehicles without tachograph, the following recommendations should be communicated to drivers.

• Break a 3 hour journey with a 20 minute stop

• Take a break of 20 minutes at least every two hours for longer journeys

• Regular short stops of 20 minutes are better than one long stop; take a 15 minute nap

• Avoid eating a heavy meal before driving and chew some gum to stop yawning

• Drink a couple of cups of strong coffee

Avoid the glare
Glare from the sun can cause road accidents. Wearing the correct sunglasses can help reduce glare and keep your drivers seeing clearly. It is recommended that your drivers have their eyes tested by an optician every 2 years. If a driver requires prescription lenses, their sunglasses should also have the same lenses.

Some lenses in sunglasses are not suitable for use by drivers. Class 4 lenses let through little light and are not suitable for driving. Class 1, 2 and 3 lenses let through adequate light for use in the day, but not at night and Class 0 lenses have no limitations, but have over 80% light transmission.

Managers should check that drivers have the correct type of lenses in their sunglasses. Design features such as deep arms should also be avoided because they obstruct periphery vision.

The Country Code If your routes cover rural areas, it’s useful to remind your drivers about the ‘Country Code’.

• Tractors can turn unexpectedly and do not need indicators for daytime driving

• Tractors can have front loaders so overtaking may take longer than expected

• Mud on the road that has been left by a tractor can be extremely slippery after rain.

Summary of key points
Driving in the summer introduces hazards for your drivers in the same way as winter driving can have its unique challenges. It is recommended that managers raise the awareness of their drivers on the issues in this guidance note and take the following action:

• Consider the chance of traffic jams caused by holidaymakers when journey planning

• Check that drivers who need corrected vision wear prescription lense sunglasses, tinted to an acceptable standard

• Talk to drivers without tachographs about taking additional breaks, whilst reminding professional drivers about fatigue prevention techniques

• Look at vehicle maintenance and inspection regimes from a summer driving viewpoint and check that air conditioning systems are working effectively

• Monitor pollen count forecasts and work with drivers to ensure they are best placed to control the effects of hay fever.

Following this insurer guidance note can help you prevent driving at work accidents by keeping your drivers focused on the road through managing vehicle fatigue and allergy reactions effectively.

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