When operating a business fleet, driver safety is high on the agenda.
Driving holds a number of risks and when up to 40 per cent of road accidents in the EU have been found to be work-related, it is imperative that fleet operators manage and mitigate potential dangers.
Employing driver monitoring tools can help employees to drive more efficiently, enabling to reduce the risk for both themselves and others out on the road while leading to potential cost savings.
However, there are times when the dangers go beyond the use of telematics. In this blog we look at seven of the toughest driving jobs from around the world.
War zone truck driver
Part of America’s ‘shadow army’, private contractors navigate war-torn countries in their trucks to deliver items such as food and supplies out to military bases.
Drivers have to be constantly aware of their surroundings, keeping an eye out for potential booby traps or IEDs and can often find themselves facing ambushes unarmed.
With an $80,000 annual salary, they are part of the world’s highest paid truck drivers but the risks are extremely high – more than 600 civilians hired by American companies have been killed during the Iraq War.
Top Fuel dragster driver
Top Fuel dragsters are the quickest accelerating vehicles in the world, capable of hitting 335 miles per hour and reaching 100 miles per hour in just 0.8 seconds.
At one race track in the UK, it is someone’s job to take visitors for a seven-second ride in a Top Fuel dragster at 170 miles per hour before deploying a parachute to slow down.
Many top racers have retired due to negative G-force causing detached retinas, so doing it daily for your job can put you at an increased risk.
Train driver in Peru
It’s not only the road where driving can be tough. Train drivers across the world often face difficult situations too.
In Peru, trains travel up and down the Andes to the mines at Cerro de Pasco, 4,330 metres above sea level.
As imagined, the climb up is a slow one but the descent is where it becomes dangerous. Signals and safety barriers are few and far between on the railway tracks and one mistake by the driver could cause the train to derail and fall off the cliff.
Ice road truck driver
Mines in northern Canada operate all year round and the most cost-effective way to get necessities to workers is by truck.
But the weather conditions can be brutal. Drivers are met with temperatures of up to -50 degrees Celsius, making hypothermia a very real threat. They also have to navigate over frozen water, such as lakes and rivers, to reach their destination – some drivers have even heard the ice cracking under them!
The trick is to stay on the move at a slow speed. Ice can hold a 100,000-pound truck when it is moving, yet only around 60,000 pounds of weight when the truck is stationary. If the vehicle stops, it could spell serious danger for the driver and truck’s contents.
Jeepney driver in Manila
In the capital of the Philippines, jeepneys are the buses taking people to school and work.
However, drivers often have to work extremely long hours just to earn a small amount of money, putting them at risk of exhaustion and falling levels of concentration – a deadly combination when driving Manila’s busy roads.
Air pollution in the city is also worsening – perhaps due to the 70,000 ageing jeepneys sitting in gridlock each day – and that, along with the poor design of the driver’s seat, is becoming harmful to the driver’s health.
Did you know taxi drivers in the US suffer more deaths due to violence than any other job, with numbers higher than police and security guards?
Carrying cash and working alone make taxi drivers a target for criminals, while giving rides to strangers means they are never sure who they will be sharing their cabs with.
As a result, a driver must learn to evaluate situations for threat as being a lone worker means help is not always at hand.
Motor racing driver
There are many different types of motor racing, each bringing a danger to its drivers.
One, for example, has vehicles with open cockpits, exposing the driver’s head even when helmeted and putting them at huge risk if they happen to be involved in a collision or flip the car.
Another has the risk of drivers experiencing dehydration due to the prolonged high g-forces and hot temperatures inside the car. Drivers can end up losing up to three litres of water during some of the hottest races and around 4kg in weight during an average race, impacting on their psycho-physical abilities and prompting confusion and slow responses.