IDS global travel safety alert: Minimising the risks from jet-lag induced driver fatigue
23rd April 2013

A few years ago, after a prominent road fatality and court case involving a rental vehicle driver who was fatigued after an overnight flight from the US to the UK, we undertook some research and issued guidance on jet-lag and road safety.

Now, following the road death of a senior executive, who fell asleep at the wheel driving home in the middle of the night following a transatlantic flight, we felt compelled to review and recirculate the guidance.

Jet-lag induced fatigue is a condition that most travellers experience when flying across time zones. Extremely long and segmented flights can leave travellers exhausted upon arrival and has played a part in a number of road fatalities across the world. For this reason we are sharing the following ten good practice suggestions (for contractors and clients as well as colleagues) to consider reviewing your policies and guidelines against:

  1. Assuming that colleagues absolutely have to travel, and there is no alternative such as a WebEx or conference call, make sure their journey is well planned.

  2. Before taking a long haul flight, it is important to focus on the arrival time and onward journey planning. Check that the route is OK. Allow realistic travel times for the conditions and ensure others are aware of the journey.

  3. All colleagues travelling internationally, overnight or on flights with significant time zone adjustment or arriving late at night, particularly to locations where driving is on the other side of the road or with unfamiliar signage, should not use a rental vehicle immediately, due to jet-lag, fatigue and increased collision risks.

  4. On arrival, colleagues should travel via the most cost effective, safe and appropriate method (such as car service, hotel shuttle, taxi or public transport) to reach their final destination. On the second day at their destination colleagues may be allowed to obtain a rental vehicle if it is the only viable and safe travel option of last resort.

  5. Local shuttle services should be the first choice for ground transport to hotels, workplaces, home and other destinations. Express rail links to and from airports should also be used when suitable. Company organised car services or public transportation should be the second choice with inter-site shuttles a consideration for travel to, from and between Company sites. Taxis and vehicle rental should only be used where other forms of transport are incompatible with the business requirement.

  6. Similarly, if colleagues are arriving home late from a long flight, arrange for someone to pick them up at the airport. Don't take unnecessary risks.

  7. Colleagues visiting another country should never operate a motor vehicle without first considering and understanding local driving conditions, customs, laws, road rules and transport alternatives.

  8. Business travellers are discouraged from driving in any country where they are unfamiliar with the roads or where driving conditions vary significantly from those in the home country. This could include driving on the opposite side of the road, driving on ice or snow, driving on unpaved roads or use of a motor vehicle with substantially different controls (such as manual transmission or four wheel drive) from those to which a driver is accustomed. In some countries, local operating business units or in-country organisations provide drivers for visitors. Colleagues should consult with in-country management, partners and clients regarding policies pertaining to vehicle rental or driving in foreign countries.

  9. Colleagues who are not local nationals must have a valid driver's license from their home country, and / or international driver’s license / permit where required, in addition to meeting the foreign country's requirements for driving in that country.

  10. When rental of a vehicle is unavoidable, arrangements should be made through the approved company travel provider. The approved travel provider should advise the colleague of the insurance coverage that must to be obtained with the rental. Only colleagues who have a valid driving licence/permit and who have been registered as a driver with the rental company are permitted to drive a rental vehicle.

As a first step, if people in your organisation take overnight or long-haul flights, we encourage you to review your programs against the above, and develop robust procedures to ensure their on-going travel safety when they arrive. At Interactive Driving Systems we also have a range of online RiskCOACH modules, covering key issues such as fatigue management and wellbeing, which are designed to coach colleagues with regards to good practice.

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Ed Dubens
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