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Is ‘Big Brother’ fuelling the driver shortage?

Jun 09, 2019
Telematics plays an important role in optimising efficiency in the transport industry, but is the ever-watching eye of the TM making driver recruitment more difficult? Deputy Editor David Jordan believes it is.

Is Big brother fuelling the driver shortageWhen tachographs were made compulsory for UK commercial vehicles back in 1975, there was an outcry from truck drivers who famously dubbed them ‘The Spy in the Cab’. Many saw the simple analogue tachos as an afront to their professionalism; an intrusion of their privacy, and the death knell for the freedom they enjoyed alone on the open road. 

Quite what those drivers would make of the complex devices used by transport companies today is anyone’s guess. Sophisticated telematics that record every inch of every journey. Sins such as heavy braking, speeding, hard acceleration, unscheduled stops and starts, navigational errors and who knows what else, are all instantly beamed to the TM’s office for scrutiny and possible disciplinary action on the driver’s return.

Safety, which as we all know is now ‘paramount’ in all business activities, is at the root of all this technology and there is no doubt that having a ‘spy’ or five in the cab, along with a few cameras for good measure, does make drivers think twice about how they behave on the road. However, I can’t help feeling that the perceived lack of trust between transport managers and their drivers and the knowledge that their every move is being recorded and, in some cases scored by the boss, is deterring would-be HGV drivers from joining the profession.

Add to this the chronic lack of proper rest areas, lay-bys and toilet facilities on Britain’s roads and it’s not hard to see why we have an estimated shortfall of around 50,000 HGV drivers. 

While it’s true that telematics plays a vital role in optimising efficiency in the transport and logistics industry, I believe it’s also important to remember that trusting people to do their job properly without watching them every moment of their working day is fundamental to someone’s job satisfaction and self-esteem.

Let’s cut our HGV drivers a bit of slack and not allow ‘Big Brother’ to make the pleasure of life on the open road a distant memory.

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