Everything UK Employers Need to Know About Fatigue and Driving

13% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel and 1 in 5 fatal accidents in the UK is related to driving tired. 

Do you know the regulations around fatigue and driving?

If the answer is no, you need to take action.

Fatigue is poorly understood as a cause of accidents, but if you employ lone workers, manage a mobile workforce, or have drivers on your team for any reason, it is in your Duty of Care as an employer to keep your team safe.

By doing so, you can avoid serious legal consequences and insurance risks. 

In this post, we will give you the tools to safely run your fleet without compromising the management of your team or the running of your business.

This is what everyone needs to know about driving whilst tired in the UK.

What Is Fatigue And How Does It Cause Accidents?

Tiredness impairs reaction time, which is a primary cause of accidents. In fact, driving tired can be as dangerous as driving whilst intoxicated (and, unlike alcohol, the police have no way to measure this).

Things which make fatigue-related accidents more likely include:

  • Time of day - crashes are most frequent in the early morning and early evening
  • Poor or irregular sleep
  • Long periods of driving without breaks
  • Modern vehicles provide a smoother ride than older ones, making it easier to fall asleep
  • Stress
  • Some medications (prescription and non-prescription) can cause drowsiness

What Your Employees Should Know

Unfortunately, the risk of driving whilst tired is not always taken seriously. In fact, 49% of drivers will admit to sometimes driving on less than 5 hours of sleep.

Someone may not become drowsy until they are already driving. Fortunately, there are warning signs that you can train your team to recognise:

  • Microsleeps - these are small bursts of sleep that last only a few seconds
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Common signs of tiredness, like yawning, head drooping, heavy eyelids
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles

There are practical steps your employees can take to reduce the likelihood of falling asleep:

  • Take 15 minute breaks at least every two hours
  • If the driver feels tired, they should stop in a safe place as soon as it is possible to do so
  • Sleep for at least eight hours before driving

Microsleeps in particular are strongly related to accidents and should prompt your drivers to pull over as soon as possible. 

People are not always aware of microsleeps having happened, but if the other signs of fatigue are present, they should stop in a safe place regardless.

Those who are driving for work are especially vulnerable to fatigue as they are most likely to be driving for long periods of time. They may also feel pressured by job circumstances to push themselves to drive whilst tired. Make sure your employees know that it is okay to take a break if they are tired.

Your Responsibilities As An Employer

As an employer, you may be responsible for what happens if your employees drive whilst tired. Make sure that your employees are aware of the signs of fatigue and practice appropriate self-care and preventative measures.

UK law states that you must set working schedules that do not require drivers to exceed recommended hours for working and driving.

Your employees must maintain log books, record hours of work and rest and have regular medical assessments, as required by the UK and EU Drivers’ Hours Rules.

Regular medical assessments can also catch problems like sleep apnoea, which causes poor sleep and is also correlated with accidents.

There are sometimes different regulations for different types of vehicles, so make sure you are familiar with the specific laws relating to your fleet.

Mobile Phone Use And Fatigue

Even though it is illegal in the UK, hand-held mobile phone use whilst driving is another prominent factor in many road traffic accidents, as it impairs alertness. 

There is evidence that mobile phone use is also related to drowsy driving, because tiredness increases other risky behaviours. Additionally, some try to use their phones to distract from tiredness. 

If your employees are required to carry a mobile phone, you need to ensure they are not distracted by calls and other notifications whilst driving.

Employees can take steps to eliminate distraction from mobile phones, such as:

  • Mounting the phone if it is needed for GPS
  • Asking any passengers to communicate with others on their behalf
  • Keeping the phone out of sight (e.g. in the glove compartment)
  • Installing an app to block SMS, calls and other distractions

The Best Tool To To Keep Your Team Safe

Whilst you need to minimise distraction from phones, it is important to be able to locate your team personally, whether they are on foot or in a vehicle.

We have developed a trusted Mobile Workforce Management Solution that helps to ensure your employees’ safety on the road, whilst making it easier for you to locate and contact them.

Our Driver Protection app automatically blocks any calls, notifications, SMS messaging, email and social media notifications on the driver’s phone, minimising the risk of distraction and preventing illegal use whilst behind the wheel.

The exception is for emergency calls, which can still be made without needing to disable the app.

The app provides:

  • Real time geolocation
  • Track speed in real time to prevent speeding
  • Can be customised to each employee depending on their role and responsibilities
  • Geo-fence any unsafe areas so that your employees know to avoid them

You can also monitor your employees’ app usage, so you will be able to see if they have disabled the app whilst driving.

Try Our App For Free

Making sure that your team is familiar with the dangers of fatigue and driving is crucial. Before they get behind the wheel, they should have appropriate training to prevent tiredness and understand the consequences of illegal mobile phone use.

By taking these steps, you can avoid legal, compliance and insurance risks, whilst upholding your Duty of Care and making sure that your team is reachable at all times.

Our app is designed to make this easy without keeping you from running your business as usual.

Contact us today to arrange a free pilot of our app.