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Comment: Hidden Heroes – the UK’s commercial drivers

Peter Millichap, marketing director at Teletrac Navman UK, on why the nation’s commercial drivers deserve a special mention for their work during the coronavirus crisis.

Peter Millichap, marketing director at Teletrac Navman UK

The pandemic will inevitably leave an indelible mark on UK society, especially on the way consumers and businesses interact with brands and suppliers. While the impact on the high street, the trade counter, showroom, or warehouse may be short to mid-term, everyone is realising there are different, more convenient (for some) ways to purchase and receive products and goods.

More often than not, transport and logistics is a world where customers and products rule, the means don’t matter, and delivery times dictate success. It can be very easy to lose sight of the people behind the order. Particularly the ones who drive and deliver – our commercial drivers – those who determine how that order gets to you.

It’s these workers, on the front line of logistics, who not only have an important role to play generally, but who have kept this country going over the past six months, with everything from vital, life-saving PPE deliveries, to fast-moving consumer goods that keep the economy ticking over. Extended working hours, more vehicles on the road, an increase in shifts, and more deliveries per shift have all become the norm in recent months for those drivers bearing the load, in partnership with their colleagues in logistics, in ensuring everything gets from A to B.

There’s a number of reasons why, in our opinion, our commercial drivers deserve a special mention. Not only are they tasked with the safe delivery of their respective loads, potentially taking on more deliveries per shift, maintaining safety on the roads, handling their vehicles responsibly, and supporting their business’ bottom line, they’ve also been tasked with protecting the personal health and wellbeing of the people or businesses they’re visiting. PPE is not a natural thing for any of us to wear, however our drivers have been diligent, caring and considerate, on top of their usual duties.

Interestingly, research released before the pandemic by Talent in Logistics found that HGV Drivers felt undervalued, disengaged and had low job satisfaction; only 30% said they felt valued and 12% cited a lack of respect for the profession as contributing to the way they felt. Now that may have changed in the months since lockdown commenced as commercial drivers realise the importance of their role in keeping the country moving during the pandemic, however, fleet managers and business leaders alike should give great consideration to this survey and ensure their drivers are feeling looked after, valued and recognised for the role they’re playing.

While we’ve rightfully celebrated those working and saving lives on the front line in the hospitals, they have featured heavily on every type of screen, ensuring they remain top of mind to us. But our commercial drivers should be considered amongst the country’s hidden heroes. The pandemic has heaped pressure on them and without their service communities across the nation would have struggled without access to essential goods, services or healthcare.

Our commercial drivers are by far, the biggest and most valuable asset in the Transport and Logistics sector and we want them to be celebrated as the everyday heroes they are, for going beyond the usual expectations of their role in order to keep Britain moving, safely.

To see Teletrac Navman’s video on the real people behind commercial vehicles and their stories, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has nearly 20 years of fleet journalism experience, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

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