Lorry drivers in the UAE are regularly stressed about their jobs, according to a new survey, with a lack of sleep and the behaviour of fellow road users taking a toll.
The survey found 57 per cent of drivers suffered work-related anxiety, which spilt over into their personal lives.
Half of those questioned said the actions of other motorists was also a major source of stress – with drivers often failing to keep a safe distance between vehicles, not observing traffic laws and showing a lack of consideration to lorry drivers.
Sleep deprivation was a major concern for 13 per cent while 10 per cent said work-related stress was making them more impatient.
“Truck drivers are sitting in huge metal boxes and travelling at high speeds. If they get it wrong and make a mistake it can have very serious consequences,” said Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE.
“That’s why it is important they are not stressed and not feeling fatigued when they are behind the wheel.
“Other drivers also have a responsibility to show more consideration to truck drivers. You often see motorists cutting across lorries, which is not safe behaviour on the road.”
Drivers want extra training and more rest
When asked what could help to improve their situation, 39 per cent of drivers said they would welcome additional training, 26 per cent said they required more breaks and 17 per cent said the distances they were asked to travel should be reduced.
Last year Dubai Police reported that lorry drivers had been responsible for 26 deaths on the emirate’s roads over the previous 24 months, with another 137 people suffering injuries as a result.
The most important aspect of road safety for lorry drivers is tyre pressure, according to 74 per cent of respondents.
The survey was carried out by tyre manufacturers Continental, who asked the views of 54 lorry drivers across the country.
“We wanted to help educate people about the personal experiences and stresses experienced by the UAE’s truck drivers, people who fulfil a vital role for the country’s economy,” said Karl Kucera, general manager of Continental Middle East.
“Based on the findings, it is clear that drivers would benefit from a greater focus on training and support with content on how to deal with the stresses they face.
“At the same time, their answers send a clear message to other road users about the effect their own driving styles can have on truck drivers’ abilities to conduct their work safely.”
Another road safety expert said that lorry drivers were frequently suffering from tiredness, which often led to serious consequences.
“it’s important if you are tired to stop and take a break. Driving while tired can often be as dangerous as drink driving in terms of being able to focus,” said Saleh Jafar, president of road safety group Gulf for YASA.
“The UAE has done some great work in this regard by providing rest stops on all the major motorways for lorry drivers to stop and take a break for a few hours.”
Mr Jafar said there was also an onus on employers to make sure drivers were not given unreasonable assignments, requiring them to drive long distances without sufficient time for breaks.
“Employers need to be more reasonable and not pressure drivers to work long hours and cover huge distances without getting sufficient opportunity to rest and regain their focus,” he said.
“It is always better to arrive late than sorry.”
He also said drivers should not feel intimidated about telling their employer they were too tired to drive.
“It’s crucial that you don’t drive if you are feeling exhausted because your anxiety levels will increase and your focus will decrease, that is not a good combination for safe driving,” Mr Jafar said. “Sometimes you have to accept it’s not your day to drive.”