Lorry drivers are exhausted and fear potential changes in driving hours could make an already bad situation worse.

Survey of members
A survey of over 4,000 lorry drivers who are members of Unite has revealed that a culture of long and unsocial hours is making workers ill and destroying their family and social life. The survey found that over half (54 per cent) of drivers were working at least 50 hours or more a week. With nearly two thirds (64 per cent) working shifts with different starting hours. Fatigue was also made worse for a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) had 10 hours of less of rest between shifts (which includes traveling to and from work).

Lack of sleep
Workers are simply not having enough sleep. It is recommended that adults should have between seven to nine hours of sleep a night but the survey found that the vast majority (85 per cent) only regularly had six hours or less of sleep a night. It is not surprising that over 4 in 5 (81 per cent) of drivers admit to feeling regularly fatigued at work.

Health damaged
The long hours is having a terrible effect on drivers’ health. Just under three quarters (74 per cent) of lorry drivers reported that their physical health had been damaged while half said work had damaged their mental health. Over three quarters (76 per cent) of drivers said that their working lives had damaged their relationships and family life.

Dangers on the road
The long hours is also placing drivers and other road users in danger. In the last 12 months over half of drivers (57 per cent of drivers) have had to stop work due to excessive tiredness, while nearly a third (31 per cent) admitted they had made errors while driving due to tiredness.

Cutting safeguards
This would all be bad enough but with the prospect of a no deal Brexit looming there is a fear that the government might relax or suspend the existing driving hours, in order to try to keep deliveries flowing; endangering the safety of drivers and all road users.

Under the current regulations drivers can drive for nine hours a day (which can be extended to 10 hours twice a week) and their actual working day can be far longer.

Drivers can legally drive for 56 hours a week and a total of 90 hours a fortnight.

Drivers should have 11 hours of rest a day which can be reduced to nine hours three times a week.

Drivers must take a break of at least 45 minutes after 4 and a half hours of driving.

Take Action
Drivers are already exhausted working under these regulations and any weakening of them will have fatal consequences.

Happy Truckers’ Survival Guide
In order to help lorry drivers stay safe, while also providing information on health (physical and mental) and diet, as well as providing information on the law relating to professional lorry drivers, Unite has published the Happy Truckers’ Survival Guide. The guide is available for download below.