McCarron Coates has reminded passenger and road transport fleet operators to not cut corners and urged them to consider sleep in the risk management process.
Factoring sleep into risk management will keep fleets legal and help reduce insurance costs through enhanced safety and a significant lowering in risk, according to the Leeds-based company.
McCarron Coates’ co-director Paul Coates said: “A sleep debate needs to be waged in the commercial transport sector, because turning a blind eye is all too frequent an occurrence.”
McCarron believes too few operators include sleep in their risk management thinking. It also claims some are still unaware of the significant penalties that both driver and carrier can be forced to pay, should they allow their trans-European drivers to spend their required 45-hour rest period in the cab.
Coates said: “Lorry drivers and hauliers, in particular, seem to push the boundaries too far and too often, hoping they will not be fined, at home and abroad, for cab-based sleep.
“Sometimes, no other option presents itself to the driver and at other times it’s purely about saving the pennies. Either way, they take a huge risk by bedding down for the night in their vehicle, in more ways than one."
Spain has become the latest European country to introduce penalties for breaking European Regulation 2006/56/EU, whilst in Brussels attempts to overcome the ban on drivers spending rest periods in the cab failed.
Breaking the regulations in countries like France and Germany can result in a fine of €30,000, and even a one-year prison sentence. Germany carries a potential fine of up to €2,700 for a driver and €8,100 for a carrier is levied by authorities, where the fine is calculated on a per-hour basis, according to the duration of the infringement.
In the UK, inspectors can now issue fines for up to five driver-hour offences committed in the past 28 days. Drivers are being targeted in laybys and other locations where they can also cause issues for members of the public. With a fine of £300 for each offence, that can tot up to an on-the-spot fine of £1,500 and the vehicle can also be immobilised until the fine is paid.
While fines and possible prison sentences are one reason to not rest easy on this issue, McCarron Coates says operators should also view providing drivers with quality sleep as an integral and essential part of their risk management.
Four in 10 (40%) of sleep-related accidents involve a commercial vehicle, suggesting far too few drivers enjoy the necessary amount of rest and far too many nothing more than low-quality sleep.
Additionally, the likelihood of being involved in an accident increases according to how far below a 7-hour sleep line the driver sits, before taking to the wheel.
Those drivers who only had 5-6 hours of sleep were proved 1.9 times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who had managed to get 7 hours or more of shut-eye, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic. Shockingly, those drivers who only benefited from four hours sleep or less were 11.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash.