I read an article this afternoon about a nurse who had worked 12 hour nights without a break. On the way home she was on the wrong side of the road and crashed her car into an oncoming vehicle. (Source: Daily Record 2.1.17). As a result she has been banned from driving.
The nurse could not offer an explanation for why she ended up on the wrong side of the road. Perhaps she fell asleep after a long shift?
The reality is that people driving home from night shift will not be feeling at their best. However, they have to get home and most will arrive home with no incident.
What about other drivers who work long hours such as company account managers. How do they get home safely? What corporate responsibility is shown by employers who allow long hours to be worked? What do we even mean by long hours?
Who shoulders the responsibility when things go wrong, the driver or the organisation? I would suggest the driver. For example, the nurse who is now disqualified. What sanctions will her employers face? I suspect that her employer at the highest levels, down to her ward managers, are unlikely to ever have considered the risks involved in driving after long shifts and the potential consequences. I doubt the matter will go any further other than the legal sanctions faced by the nurse.
This was a near miss because the occupants of the other vehicle were injured but could have been killed! What lessons can be learned from this? What lessons are you going to learn on behalf of your organisation?
· What time do your company drivers have to get up to travel to their first appointment? 3 am, 5 am?
· How many miles do they drive each day/how much of their time is spent driving?
· How much supervision are they given to manage their work load and appointment schedules?
· Proactive management of road risk or are they just left to get on with it because that is the organisational culture and it’s the way it is?
· What policies do you have for overnight stops, maximum daily travel time?
What can you learn from this near miss? What can you proactively do to prevent a similar near miss for any of your drivers?
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing because we can learn from our mistakes. However, it means that things have already gone wrong. Foresight and prevention are better”.