With the current HGV driver skills shortage and the looming Brexit departure only likely to exacerbate the situation, drivers often hold the upper-hand. It therefore pays to make sure that your working conditions are as good as possible if you wish to attract and retain drivers.
One way to do so is by keeping your HGV vehicles as comfortable and safe as possible, and we are seeing increasing requests in commercial vehicle hire contracts for features that minimise cramped, unpleasant or unsafe conditions.
If you want to keep your drivers on-side, it pays to get your vehicle specifications right.
Consult your drivers
The first step is to ask your drivers what they like and dislike about their current vehicles. Encourage them to think not just about comfort, but issues that affect their productivity or ability to drive safely. They can often be the first to point out problems you would not have considered.
As drivers are typically on the road for up to nine hours a day, and long-haul drivers may need to sleep in their vehicles, comfort elements unsurprisingly feature heavily on the ‘most wanted’ list for drivers.
You should therefore look for roomy cabins, effective air conditioning and ample sleeping areas. And don’t forget storage space and lockers for drivers to store their belongings securely – an area we sometimes have to remind operators to include within their commercial vehicle hire contract.
Keep cyclists safe
Lorries account for a disproportionate number of accidents with cyclists. TfL reports that, despite HGVs making just 4% of journey miles in London, they account for 20% of pedestrian fatalities and 78% of cyclist fatalities.
The impact on businesses and victims is often reported, but there are also devastating effects on drivers having to live with being involved. However, there are steps that employers can take to reduce accidents.
- Specialist cyclist warning alarms – these inform drivers that cyclists are near the vehicle
- ‘Turning left’ alarms – to alert cyclists to an HGV’s manoeuvres
- Side guards – to prevent cyclists being dragged under the vehicle
- Reducing blindspots – technology is improving in this area, with low cab entry models and 360 degree blind spot cameras.
Other safety features
The HSE estimates that "more than a quarter of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who is driving as part of their work at the time." It therefore pays to ensure you take your drivers’ safety seriously.
When sourcing vehicles, always ask your manufacturer or commercial vehicle hire supplier which features offer additional protection to your drivers and how this compares to the standard offering.
Make their job a little easier – and more enjoyable
Drivers often face a number of targets including meeting delivery schedules, fuel efficiency and delivery loading/unloading time allowances. Telematics solutions exist that can not only help drivers meet and track these targets, but let them see how they are doing compared to other drivers – adding some enjoyable, friendly competition to their day.
Another often-overlooked area is ensuring that your vehicles are the right size for their purposes and have the correct packing layouts for the sector needs. Whether you hire or buy, a decent supplier should be able to assist you with your specification needs.
Keeping up with the improvements: to hire or buy?
All of these safety and comfort features come at a cost and there are advantages to both commercial vehicle hire and capital purchase. To find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of each, why not read our guide with for LCVs, as many of the same factors will be applicable for HGVs: