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Planning the journey, or route planning, is one of the most important activities in the management of the transport activity. It is the responsibility of the company and the driver to ensure that the route planning takes sufficient account of the available clearance under overhead structures, level crossings, cables, wires and trees to enable safe passage.

One should always ask the question “is this journey necessary?” Often you may find that several journeys travel in the same direction to almost the same location, if so consolidating these journeys saves both time and money and reduces drivers’ time on the road.

When do your vehicles do most of their journeys? Is it early in the morning, midday or early evening? Can you avoid travelling in rush hour traffic? Is it possible to reschedule journey start times to mid-morning?

Do your drivers crisscross with each other or are driver’s running backwards and forwards across the same ground many times a day?

Having journeys crisscrossing is wasteful and counterproductive so you should seek the most efficient way of minimising the distance travelled. Use route-planning to standardise journeys so as to minimise lost time and distance travelled.

Could you use safer routes which are more appropriate for the type of vehicle undertaking the journey? Freeways are the safest roads and although minor roads may be fine for cars, they are less safe and could present difficulties for larger vehicles as some roads and intersections may not be capable of properly accommodating vehicles of allowable dimensions.

Do you try to avoid periods of peak traffic flow and does the company allow sufficient time to complete journeys safely? Where appropriate, do you regularly check tachographs to ensure drivers are not cutting corners and putting themselves and others at risk?

Are work schedules realistic and do they take sufficient account of periods when drivers are most likely to feel sleepy? Sleep related incidents are most likely to occur between 2 am and 6 am and between 2 pm and 4 pm.

Are your delivery deadlines realistic? Do journey times take account of road types and condition and allow for rest breaks?

Company policy should not put drivers under pressure that encourages them to exceed safe speeds because of agreed arrival times. How do you stop employees from driving if they feel sleepy even if this might upset delivery schedules?

Can drivers make an overnight stay, rather than having to complete a long road journey at the end of the working day?

Are you satisfied that drivers will not be put at risk from fatigue caused by driving excessive distances without appropriate breaks?

Do you review long road journeys and attempt to reduce them by combining with other methods of transport? For example, it may be possible to move goods in bulk by train and then arrange for local distribution by van or lorry.

Is sufficient consideration given to adverse conditions, such as areas affected by flooding and bush fires, when planning journeys? Where appropriate can journey times and routes be rescheduled to take adverse conditions into account?

Drivers should understand that they need to reduce risks and not feel pressured, for whatever reason, to complete journeys where they feel that the vehicle will be unsafe due to any conditions whatsoever that would render the journey exceptionally difficult or dangerous.