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Martin Starkey
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DRIVERS  should be empowered to make more safety conscious decisions rather than have more work-related stresses heaped upon them.

As the UK re-emerges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Licence Bureau is urging businesses to entrust their drivers to make the ‘right’ commercial decisions based on health and safety first and foremost, and forego the temptation to constantly check-up on them.

The move underpins Licence Bureau’s recent ‘road health’ message which advised fleet managers to continue to enact on the ‘new norms’ of social distancing and increased awareness surrounding mental health, and encourage employees to ensure both are considerations when getting back behind the wheel for leisure or work.

Licence Bureau’s call comes as increased economic challenges could see business pressures mount with fleet drivers expected to make up for lost time. The fear is this will come in the form of greater demands placed upon drivers and at the cost of operating compliance.

Pre-COVID-19 there was already growing evidence that ever-demanding schedules and increasing driver distractions, including the expectation to field mobile phone calls whilst driving, was significantly impacting driver risk.

Martin Starkey, training manager at Licence Bureau, said: “No one should be put under extreme pressures when driving for business or asked to use their mobile phone whilst behind the wheel.

“Yet some companies continue to hide behind policies when the reality is very different. Quite simply this is putting people’s lives at risk.

“With the mounting pressures across all areas of the economy and business stress levels set to rise, it is absolutely vital that individuals are empowered to use their own initiative by organising their own diaries, deciding on their modes and timings of communication and, ultimately, choosing their mobility solution as appropriate.

“Company policy and practice needs to reflect this and support it.”

With the government’s current COVID-19 guidance continuing to promote working from home where possible, and to avoid using public transport, driving for work has the potential to become increasingly important at least in the short to medium term.

Starkey added: “Decisions for any business activity need to be based on sound reasoning. More so now than ever before companies need to recognise drivers or remote teams need to be empowered to make the right choices – whether that be using conferencing systems, arranging their own mobility or management of their own diary.”

Licence Bureau very much sees this empowered approach as being part of the ‘new norm’ for forward thinking businesses – creating far more people-centric operations.

Starkey said: “Lockdown has allowed many individuals and organisations to reflect on how they operate and travelling for ‘travel’s sake’ will become obsolete for many.

“Instead, individuals will become far more in control of their own commitments and the organisations that encourage this will be the beneficiaries with greater compliance, better mental health profiles and more engaged employees.”

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