A free driver app to help employers manage the safe return of furloughed staff who normally drive for work, and their unused vehicles, following the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown is today being launched by Driving for Better Business, the government-backed Highways England programme.
It has been created to support a national campaign asking drivers if they are #ReadyfortheRoad? coordinated by the National Roads Policing Operations and Intelligence group, the campaign is also supported by ARRM, DfT, Driving for Better Business, DVLA, DVSA, Highways England, MIB, MoD, NFCC, NRPOI, PACTS, Police Scotland, Road Safety Trust, TyreSafe and UKROEd.
The Driving for Better Business ‘Ready for the Road?’ package, created by fleet software specialist FleetCheck and including a detailed 20-point checklist devised by Mercedes-Benz Vans, will take drivers through the process of ensuring their car or van is fully roadworthy after being left unused for weeks or months, as well as showing them how to sanitise the vehicle effectively.
The Driving for Better Business Driver app includes:
- Cloud-based manager dashboard to monitor compliance
- Elimination of paper checklists with associated chasing and filing
- Thorough digital safety check for mothballed vehicles including photographic evidence of defects or damage
- ‘Fit to drive’ driver declaration including COVID-19 symptoms
- Essential driver support information
- Daily vehicle sanitisation checklist
- Robust audit trail of all legally required actions
- Push messaging to reinforce safety messages and driving for work policy
The ‘Ready for the Road?’ app sends completed driver safety checks to a management portal where the employer can then deal any vehicle maintenance or repairs that are needed, as well as communicate changes in policy, such as handwashing and vehicle cleaning. The portal also includes links to the latest government guidance relating to vehicles as well as resources exclusively created for the Driving for Better Business COVID-19 Transport Toolkit.
The complete package of management portal and driver app is completely free to use for businesses with 10 or more vehicles. Employers should visit www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com/ready to register. Employers with fewer vehicles will not be able to use the app but will be able to download digital versions of the checklists and animations to distribute to their drivers.
Employers are also encouraged to share the resources with any staff who may commute by road, to help everyone understand the new challenges, whether or not they drive for work.
Simon Turner, Campaign Manager, Driving for Better Business, explained: “Cars and vans that haven’t been used for many weeks because businesses have been non-operational can’t simply be put straight back on the road, and need a thorough inspection.
“Tyres could very likely have lost pressure, a small leak could have drained fluids, and even rodents could have caused problems by chewing through the vehicle’s wiring. As the lockdown is lifted, employers need to make sure vehicles are roadworthy before they’re driven again to avoid breakdowns and the increased risk of accidents.
“Drivers, too, need to make sure they’re prepared. Having been used to no more than the occasional trip to the shops on an empty road, traffic is now starting to increase to more normal levels. That readjusting will take time and they will also need to be alert to the increased number of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists as many commuters take to the road instead of public transport. A new series of 12 short animations included in the app will help them understand these challenges.”
Paul Keasey, Detective Chief Superintendent, Gloucestershire Police Chair, National Roads Policing Operations and Intelligence (NRPOI) said: “Police officers across the country deal with a significant number of incidents that are completely avoidable. The Ready for the Road? app will enable employers to ensure the safety of their vehicles and their drivers as we return to a new normal, and I am delighted to support this resource and the wider Driving for Better Business Programme.”
Peter Golding, Founder and Managing Director of FleetCheck, said: “One of the most important things about managing driver and vehicle safety is the need for a robust audit trail – ensuring all necessary checks are made, nothing gets missed, and everything is recorded. With the many unique challenges fleets are now facing, we’re delighted to have the opportunity to work with Driving for Better Business and help develop this valuable resource to support fleet operators through what is an incredibly challenging time.”
Steve Bridge, Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been hard at work supporting all our customers involved in key services to keep their vehicles well maintained and operational. We have always been proud to champion the van community and in this time of extreme need, these heroes have worked tirelessly to keep the country moving. Therefore we’re really pleased to help Driving for Better Business in assisting all those organisations that haven’t been able to work during the lockdown to make sure their vehicles are now fit to be back on the road, and in turn keep their businesses moving.”
Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe Chairman said: “As people start making more use of their vehicles again, it’s more important than ever that they check their tyres before taking a long journey. Tyres don’t like standing around, especially when they’re exposed to the climate and UV rays, which accelerates the ageing process. Ensuring there are no signs of cracking and air pressures are correct can easily be checked but, if you’re unsure, a tyre retailer will be willing to help.”