As we come to the end of this extraordinary year and head into peak season it’s a good time to pause, reflect and reset. Christmas is always a challenging time in the road freight industry. With greater demand comes the temptation to push limits and ignore safety norms. More social engagements and alcohol can reduce our rest, leaving us vulnerable to impairment by fatigue. We know from Driver State Sensing (DSS) records that driver fatigue incidents spike at this time of year.
A natural inclination to farewell 2020 with gusto coupled with pent-up demand in the supply chain will exacerbate these trends. I encourage everyone to keep this front of mind during the festive season. Actively practicing patience and cultivating an atmosphere of order and calm helps to manage actual and perceived pressure. We also need to be mindful that while some people are Christmas-tragics (guilty), for others this can be a lonely and anxious season. The relationship between mental and emotional state and road safety is well established, for example
- Heavy vehicle drivers diagnosed with depression are almost 7 times more likely to be involved in a crash than those without depression
- Drivers experiencing divorce or separation have a greater at fault crash risk by a factor of more than 4
- “Heightened stress due to life events” is correlated with at-fault crashes
One of the good things to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic is an increased preparedness to be vulnerable. I’ve found colleagues and stakeholders more human, more fully-rounded as we’ve faced this challenge.
Mental health and personal wellbeing have become standard topics of conversation in meetings and corridors.
Let’s leverage from this to keep our emotional awareness high during this busy time.
There are some terrific resources available to inform safety conversations on the relationship between wellbeing and safety. I suggest checking out the Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds site and this graphic from the National Road Safety Partnership Program.
On behalf of the Road Transport Safety and Compliance team, merry Christmas everyone. Stay safe, stay well.
– Sarah Jones, General Manager Road Transport Safety and Compliance Unit (RTSCU), Health, Safety and Environment Division (HSE)
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