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How fleets and drivers can avoid ‘Blue Monday’ motoring

Next Monday, 21st January, may be marked as 2019’s ‘Blue Monday’ but a few simple measures from both fleet operators and drivers will go a long way to avoiding the stresses of driving, according to Venson Automotive Solutions.

Blue Monday is known for being the ‘most depressing day of the year’ due to the manifestation of various factors including the weather, debt levels after Christmas and failing new year’s resolutions – it occurs on the third Monday of every January.

As Venson highlights, the stress these factors can cause can bring a knock-on effect when it comes to driving, severely impact a driver’s behaviour. According to road safety charity Brake, drivers suffering from stress are more likely to speed and take other risks while driving and are more likely to be involved in serious crashes. Driving-related stress can arise from lack of confidence in driving ability, heavy traffic, being late to an appointment or work, being afraid of having a crash, uncertainty of the journey route and distractions such as mobile phones or satnavs.

Blue Monday tips for operators

As Blue Monday approaches, Venson is urging fleets to ensure they are playing their role in reducing stress on drivers on an ongoing basis.

Director of client management Simon Staton said: “When it comes to operating a safe fleet, those in charge will have many checks and systems in place to account for the vehicle and driver’s legal suitability, but what happens when state of mind becomes a threat to drivers’ safety? Poor mental wellbeing – including stress, anxiety and depression – can have a serious impact on their ability to drive safely. With ‘Blue Monday’ fast approaching, exacerbating the number of distracted drivers on the road, fleet managers could offer some much-needed advice.”

Unlike a broken leg or fractured collar bone, it can be hard for fleet managers to recognise when an employee is struggling under the pressure of stress or other mental health problems.

Staton added: “A Duty of Care policy is just one measure that can help support safe driving but others are more about the day-to-day management of the driver and understanding where possible pressure points may be and then identifying if there is a potential risk to the driver, the general public and the business.”

Available to all fleet managers is Venson Automotive Solutions’ white paper, which underlines the need for employers to consider stress and mental health as a key focus of their driver safety policy. To download a copy, click here.

Blue Monday tips for drivers

Venson is also urging drivers to carry out a few practical measures to help ensure they’re ready for Blue Monday.

Preparation is key

Before starting a journey, make sure the vehicle is prepped for the road conditions. It’s vital to check fuel, oil levels, coolant, tyres, lights and that the windscreen is clean.

Navigation

Avoid unnecessary stress by ensuring plenty of time has been left for the journey and, if it’s an unfamiliar route, this has been programmed into the satnav before setting off. It’s also worth checking the traffic conditions on the route ahead before setting off.

Busy road = busy mind

If possible, avoid driving at peak times and in congested areas as this can increase anxiety. Giving way at busy junctions can help drivers control traffic situations and feel more at ease on the road. Giving drivers space on the road gives time to react to their actions in a timely manner. It’s also important to avoid aggressive drivers. Don’t react by braking, acceleration or swerving in retaliation as this can increase tenseness.

Take a load off

When driving make sure to take a 15-minute break every two hours and consider an overnight stay on long journeys. If driving increases stress levels, it’s always worth checking if this is the best transport option and if others are available.

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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