Real Life Road Safety: Heading for Trouble

Posted on January 30th, 2012 by James Luckhurst

Real Life Road Safety: Heading for TroubleJACKIE BELL, 41, was stopped by a police officer as she joined a motorway in the south of England. She had been exceeding a temporary speed limit and was not wearing a seatbelt. She was driving a four-year-old, 1.2-litre company car. Jackie explained that she covers 600-700 miles per week. Her job involves emptying pub slot machines. She has nine points on her licence, all from speeding, and had collected two parking tickets in the previous seven days. She says that 80 per cent of her working day is spent driving and rates her work as “moderate to high pressure”. Her employer imposes no limits on how far or for how long she drives. Nor is there a road safety policy, a vehicle maintenance procedure or a management action plan to implement a safe driving culture. Jackie has never been offered a place on a driver training course and has received no guidelines from her employer governing mobile telephone use while driving.

Driver training expert Graham Griffiths expressed concern. “Jackie seems to be on her way to a stress-related illness,” he said.  “She is driving a high daily, weekly, annual mileage, under constant time pressure that pushes her to exceed the speed limits. Research shows that it is unremitting stressors that are most likely to lead to serious long-term physical and mental health consequences. And she’s not wearing a seatbelt – on a motorway. Could we interpret this darkly as a desire to self-harm? That would have the sole advantage of removing her from under the press of her current stressors. It really could be that bad.

“She deserves sympathy, but having said that I don’t condone what she does. This boils down to poor, weak management. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this scenario, where management agree to customer demands and pass on the orders to the driver, without taking into account the consequences. It’s the drivers who end up being injured – or injuring or killing someone else. Even then, the management will not see their own hand in it. She was a dreadful driver, they will say. Just look at her licence… Their staff might or might not be poor drivers, but their driving performance is being adversely affected by poor management.”

This is the third in GEM’s ‘Real Life Road Safety’ series. Click to view part 1 & part 2.