There are thousands of van and HGV drivers operating alone in the UK, who face considerable dangers every day, so road transport and logistics operators increasingly need to consider employee protection as part of managing work-related road risk.
While the use of vehicle tracking and cameras to monitor driver welfare inside the vehicle is now widespread, what this technology does not focus on are the many risks outside of the vehicle. Personal safety solutions, in contrast, allow a lone worker to call for assistance in or out of the vehicle and offer added protection that can be used alongside other existing fleet systems.
The Risk to Drivers
There is a substantial amount of statistical and anecdotal evidence that points to a greater need than ever for driver safety. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that around a third of traffic collisions in the UK involve someone who drives as part of their work. There are also the added risks for those making deliveries at the roadside, with multiple collisions occurring everyday involving parked vehicles, many resulting in death or serious injury.
However, this is only one part of risk that fleet drivers must contend with, because a greater number of incidents occur when they are outside the cab. Highjackings, assaults and roadside incidents are just some of the threats when exiting the vehicle, with opportunistic thieves increasingly targeting delivery vehicles. Meanwhile accidents – such as slips, trips and falls – and other medical emergencies during the working day remain a constant threat to their wellbeing.
Fleet Technology Integration
With continued advances in cloud-based connectivity there is a huge opportunity to bring together complementary systems to better protect lone drivers. Personal safety solutions will increasingly be integrated with other apps, systems and tools such as vehicle tracking, video telematics, driver behaviour monitoring and workforce management. The added connectivity and seamless sharing of data results in fleet operators gaining greater levels of visibility, control and insight.
One such opportunity for fleets is the combination of lone worker protection technology with video telematics, providing drivers with a quick and easy way to request assistance. This has the potential to mitigate driver risk both in and outside the vehicle, offering high levels of safety and peace of mind to the people who drive for a living, and their employers. In fact, it is taking lone worker safety to the next level, adding an extra layer of protection to what is currently available using a traditional vehicle tracking or video telematics solution.
Video-Enabled Fleet Driver Protection
Video-enabled lone worker solutions ensure that real-time audio data and footage can be sent to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) to support proactive management of high-risk situations. Therefore, driver welfare and support is increased, by mitigating risk inside and outside the vehicle, with added understanding when an alarm is raised to better react to issues and speed up the response from emergency services if required.
When an alarm is raised via a mobile app, an ARC controller has visibility of the app user’s details and a GPS view showing where the app and dashcam are located on a map, plus audio recorded via the app and dashcam footage leading up to the incident. The footage can be captured from one or more cameras fitted on a vehicle, which means evidence of what has happened is available from a combination the front, rear, side or inside of the vehicle.
In addition, Driver ID functionality can confirm exactly who is driving. This enables a fleet to use their video telematics platform to report by driver, which will be particularly useful for companies that operate a pool of vehicles that are not designated to a particular employee. This enables fleets to have complete visibility of who is operating a vehicle when a collision, near miss or harsh driving event occurs.
Drivers can simply scan a QR code using a mobile app to register their unique user ID, which confirms who is driving the vehicle. This automatically enables controllers in the ARC to access audio communication along with supporting video footage captured from cameras, as well as incident data, if an alarm is raised. The added audio and visual insight also ensures that the most appropriate action is taken quickly, efficiently and safely, with immediate access to emergency services if required.
Health and wellbeing should be a priority for all road transport and logistics fleets. Not everyone is always supportive of change or greater use of technology, but by engaging with drivers at an early it is possible to demonstrate the added benefits and added levels of protection. This will help gain buy-in and ensure a working environment in and out of the vehicle.