Stress can affect your driving in many ways. It can make you lash out at other drivers or become panicked about the idea of getting in a car altogether. One of the worst times to lose control is when you’re behind the wheel. In 2019, 1,146 people died in road-related incidents in Australia, highlighting just how dangerous driving can be and why it should always have your full attention.

As a business owner, your responsibility is to protect the health and wellbeing of your workers. Vehicles are a recognized workspace, and therefore fleet operators have a duty to ensure their drivers are working in a healthy state of mind and conditions are in place to reduce stress. Some small changes to the way you operate can transform how your drivers react in stressful situations and keep them healthy on the road.

Reduce deadlines

Ask any student, they’ll tell you all about the stress of deadlines. Working under a tight deadline can be a great motivator, but some find it nerve-racking and their performance levels drop. As emotions get involved, the risk of a crash increases. If a person is driving under pressure, it becomes a very serious situation.

The world moves fast, and people don’t appreciate delays. However, it can make a huge difference to your workers if you attempt to reduce the pressure of deadlines. Try and create a work environment in which drivers don’t feel the need to rush or cut-corners to reach their next job. This gives them time to think over the journey and work through challenges at their own pace. This is particularly helpful for delivery drivers, who have become victims of our world-wide obsession with online shopping and the unrealistic expectations that come with it. Is it worth being known for super-fast delivery, if it comes at the cost of multiple road-rage incidents?

Update your website to make it clear you operate within less defined deadlines. Use this as a point of difference of a unique selling point, that you care for your workers and don’t want to put them under pressure while working. Some customers will be frustrated they can’t get something that day, but most will understand if you make it clear it’s done for the benefit of your driver’s mental wellbeing.

Pre-plan their routes

Getting lost while out for a walk is stressful enough, now imagine that feeling while operating a work-related vehicle, be it a courier, heavy-good vehicle or service provider. Your drivers getting lost can be a financial drain on your business, time is money after all. If you’ve ever tried to read directions while navigating through a crowded city you’ll understand why drivers prefer a clear set of instructions.

Pre-planning your driver’s routes and taking the time to research the safest one for them is the fleet equivalent of creating a comfortable office environment. It can help reduce their stress levels and keep them level-headed throughout the entire route.

You should be providing your drivers with GPS technology as standard, but route-planning software such as OptimoRoute and RouteSavvy among others can help you pre-plan exactly where you’re drivers will be going and streamline the process. Review these routes and work with your drivers to improve on them for an even less stressful experience in the future.

Fuel cards

In recent years fuel cards have emerged as a brilliant way to streamline the process of purchasing fuel for long-distance drivers. What can be a stressful part of the journey is now another seamless cog in your business’ machine.

Whether they’re driving cross-country or just making a business trip, as long as your driver has a fuel card they’ll be able to cover the cost of getting home. Rather than having to worry about having the cash on them, the right company card or money on their personal account, your workers can simply use the universal fuel cards to pay for all driving-related purchases.. This relieves any concern your driver may have about incurring an argument about journey expenses when they arrive back at the office with a hefty receipt.

Unlike cash, which is unlikely to be recovered if stolen on the road, a fuel card can simply be cancelled should your driver lose it. You won’t just be reducing stress amongst your fleet, but your admin staff, who will appreciate not having to sift through hundreds of receipts at the end of the month.

Make their journey comfortable

It’s almost guaranteed that your office staff all have specialty chairs and desks, designed to support their posture and make them feel comfortable at work. So why would you provide any less for the lifeblood of your business, the drivers?

Drivers are either sat for long periods of time or frequently getting in and out of their vehicles. Uncomfortable and poor physical working conditions are one of the main causes of stress in the workplace. Being uncomfortable can make you irritable, and irritation quickly turns to stress. Make sure your vehicles are fitted with all the home comforts you’d afford an office desk and your delivery drivers have a quick and easy method of getting in and out of the vehicle. If possible, working with your fleet on developing the best conditions possible for them.

Use alternative routes

You could make your driver take the fastest route, the one that will force them around precarious corners and make them sit in rush hour traffic on the way back. Or, you could find a more pleasant alternative route for them that may take a bit longer but will go a long way to relieving workplace stress.  

It’s understandable that a business owner would want to get things done in the fastest and most profitable way. You have to weigh up your employee’s happiness against profits though. If your drivers have to make stressful, or even dangerous, journeys frequently then they will become anxious about going to work. Knowing that they’ll be driving a route that’s safer, quieter and chosen with them in mind will have a huge impact on their stress levels for the journey.

Driving is a stressful job in the best conditions. It requires a huge amount of attention and care, and it can be difficult not to find monotonous. As a fleet manager, you have a responsibility not just to your customers and business partners, but to your drivers to keep their health and happiness at the front of your mind.

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