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Article | Managing Risk

Is the driver shortage challenging fleet risk?

By Andrew Millinship | January 26, 2022

This insight talks through the impact of the commercial driver shortage, and offers guidance on how to manage this risk.
Risk & Analytics|Risk Management Consulting

The shortage of commercial vehicle drivers is widely reported and is a global issue. In the UK according to the Office of National Statistics, 29% of all commercial vehicle drivers are aged 56 or over1.

The contingent of drivers in the 50-65 age bracket continue to move towards retirement at a rate not being matched by recruitment, particularly in sectors where manual handling is part of a driver’s role.

The smartest companies are monitoring future retirement and attrition rates and starting to put in place long-term plans, utilising apprenticeship schemes with career advancement opportunities together with continued external recruitment.

Bringing onboard drivers can be seen as a threat and an opportunity.

The threat is that newly trained drivers, although legally compliant to drive a specific vehicle, will benefit from the experience that comes with time, to enable them to safely handle the vehicle.

This risk should be managed by appropriate induction training and assessment programmes that provide confidence and support, rather than relying on a series of crosses or ticks on an examination form.

Training needs to focus on not ‘What we want you to do’ as drivers but also ‘Why we want you to do things this way’. This facilitates a behavioural approach to driving and initiates a process of responsibility for actions if consequences are also made clear.

Now is a good time to review training and induction processes and procedures; it’s essential you put in place all the processes needed to engage with drivers to create a positive standard that cannot and will not be compromised by the need to get drivers out on the road as quickly as possible to meet operational requirements.

With new drivers, although experience can be built up, you also have the opportunity to develop correct driving behaviours at the start of their careers as professional commercial drivers and representatives of the business. This is a preferrable approach, do it now rather than at some point later down the line when, in some cases, bad habits become more difficult to correct.

Continually delivering training utilising the same health and safety based approach – as used in recent times very successfully to manage risks in our offices and on our construction sites – will help to show how unacceptable behaviour can affect the success of a business and the lives of others and themselves.

By retaining drivers, the transient continued movement of the driving workforce will be reduced, helping to address the challenges some employers face in not knowing how many drivers are going to sign on tomorrow.

It’s not just the drivers. There has always been a differential between those who drive and those who maintain vehicles. The driver shortage is leading to many of those maintaining vehicles making the switch to becoming drivers and looking ahead, this could create a shortage of engineers.

Look across your operations at all areas that support the operation of vehicles and ensure you have all the good practices in place to support drivers.

How can Willis Towers Watson help?

Willis Towers Watson has a dedicated Transport Risk Practice to assist and support clients manage all elements of fleet and transport risk. Contact our Transport Risk Management Practice Leader, Andrew Millinship for more information.




Risk Management Executive – Transport Risk

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