If a person is using their vehicle for work or driving a hire vehicle or company car, they have many responsibilities to reduce their risk of accidents on the road.
Before you set foot behind the wheel of a car for work purposes, there are a number of things you need to consider and check:
- Make sure the vehicle is roadworthy. This doesn’t just mean it has an MOT certificate, it also means that it needs to have insurance that is valid for business use, that it is taxed properly and is serviced as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Make sure you plan your route before setting off. This means you won’t be tempted to map read or set up satellite navigation while you are driving.
- Ensure breaks are scheduled. One 15-minute break for a two-hour drive is the minimum you should schedule.
- Ensure your mobile has full charge in case you need it in the event of an accident, emergency or breakdown.
- Check your vehicle visually before setting off – walk around, look at the tyres and see if you notice any defects in these or elsewhere on the vehicle.
- Set up a comfortable and correct driving position. You need to be able to operate and reach the controls without any effort and your blades should make good contact with the back of your seat.
- Check the head restraint is as high as the top of your head at least and that it is as close to the back of your head as possible.
- Have a hi-viz vest in the car
- Carry a warning triangle, first aid kit and torch in the vehicle in case of emergencies.
When you are driving
There are several Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to driving. Let’s take a look firstly at the things you should do when driving:
- Drive with your lights on (dipped beam). This will increase visibility at all times.
- Drive with your seat belt on and make sure all passengers have their seatbelts securely fastened before setting off.
- Reduce or limit how much you talk to your passengers. Make sure you stay out of any heated discussions when you’re driving.
- Obey all road signs and keep an eye out for temporary road signs for road works, temporary traffic lights, etc.
- Make sure all loads are restrained including boxes, IT equipment like your laptop, samples, documents, etc.
- Reverse into parking places when you can – this makes it easier to pull out safely when you return to your vehicle.
- Report near misses and collisions to your employer as soon as it is possible to do so.
- Follow all speed limits at all times.
- Stop driving immediately if you feel sleepy or tired. Find somewhere safe to pull up and rest.
- Switch off your mobile phone or switch all notifications to silent when you are driving. You can check your messages and calls during your scheduled breaks and you won’t get distracted.
When you are driving there are many things that you need to avoid and things that you absolutely should never do. Let’s look at some examples of things you shouldn’t do at the wheel:
- Carry loads that aren’t suitable for the vehicle
- Consult or programme satellite navigations systems or consult maps when behind the wheel.
- Drink alcohol and drive
- Take drugs and drive
- Take medicine that causes drowsiness and drive (remember that certain medications and drugs in minute quantities can affect a person’s judgement, reaction time and coordination).
- Drive too close to another vehicle (tailgating). You need to keep a safe distance so that you can stop safely if the driver brakes suddenly.
- Drive when feeling tired or sleepy.
- Smoke, drink or snack when driving. You should ensure you schedule in breaks to do these activities rather than take additional risks.
- Keep to a speed that is appropriately suited to the weather conditions and the road conditions at the time. Always keep within legal speed limits too.
Other things drivers need to be aware of
The morning after
The morning after a night drinking alcohol is a dangerous time. For every one unit of alcohol consumed, the body takes on average one hour to process it. This means that it could take someone more than ten hours to process all of the alcohol they drank in the evening. It’s a well-known fact that many drink drivers are actually caught out in the morning after an evening drinking session. Even if you were under the legal limit, you might still be affected by the levels of alcohol in your body.
A person’s stress levels, whether caused by work, relationships, family matters or finances, can cause increase a driver’s road risk. It is important that drivers actively try to manage their stress levels so that they have a minimised impact on their driving. Drivers have a duty to contact their manager if they are feeling stressed and are worried about this impacting their driving.