Travis Perkins Group has announced the completion of a study of driver behaviour that identifies three major areas to focus on to improve driver safety.

With one of the largest fleets in the UK and a driver base of around 3,000, Travis Perkins considers drivers to be at the forefront of its business. They deliver building materials to customers across all segments of construction and are often required to drive specialist vehicle types including LCVs and HGVs.

As part of the group’s commitment to continuous improvement, the business commissioned research from Dr Lisa Dorn, Associate Professor of Driver Behaviour at Cranfield University, and Founder of PsyDrive; a company that specialises in accredited training for road safety professionals, research, assessment and interventions for improved road safety.

The study involved a comprehensive literature review of existing research and took into consideration studies in other industries, such as aviation, blue light (emergency services), marine, military and the rail industry to review their learnings and adapt them for the Travis Perkins fleet, and potentially a wider driver community, with the aim to improve safety.

The study identifies three major areas to focus on to improve driver safety:

  • Skill decay
  • Stress and performance
  • Attention lapses and distractions

Dr Dorn commented: “It is perhaps no surprise that when we have something on our mind, performance is affected, and as this study shows, stress causes distraction and can impact driver safety. Attention lapses and distractions are a significant cause of crashes.

“The research also concluded that without practise, people experience skill decay, and cognitive skills like decision-making are particularly vulnerable. This has implications for safety when driving for work.”

Travis Perkins plc Safety Director Richard Byrne explained: “We will use these findings to guide our driver strategy; informing areas, such as policies, intervention, training, recruitment and wellbeing.

“Nothing is more important to us than safety, and so as members of several key transport forums, and the leading partner to the construction industry, we will also consider how we can share these learnings more widely, to breed best practice and encourage a cultural shift where drivers feel able to come forward to discuss any life challenges they may be going through, and promote more regular training beyond compliance requirements.”

The results of this study were first presented by Karl Wilshaw and Dr Lisa Dorn at the recent Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Annual Safety Forum Conference, in the company of CILT patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, and other distinguished guests.