Driving through Covid-19
The past few months have been fraught with uncertainty and bundles of the unknown for everyone and there’s no difference in the business of Driving Lessons. The role of a Driving Instructor and the business of a Driving School has almost been decimated and sadly for some their business hasn't even made it through. Rugby Driving Schools are no different than the rest of the UK, in that we are all working towards a safe working and learning environment.
So how do we work safely during Covid-19?
The answer's is simple, and the actions required, very straightforward to implement. The challenge, if you could call it a challenge, is the adjustment required to our daily and weekly teaching schedules. These have been impacted heavily upon with new cleaning and detailing regimes now required, both for us as well as our vehicles.
On 11th May 2020 the UK Government published a document which would allow business to operate from a vehicle, titled "Working Safely During Covid-19, In or from a vehicle" https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/vehicles
On 10th July 2020 the DVSA also published a document giving guidance to driver and rider trainer titled, “Coronavirus: Driver and Rider Trainer Guidance” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-restarting-driver-and-rider-training-and-tests
All documentation has had several updates as authorities became more and more aware of the effects the virus has on our community and business areas. With the purpose of the document being to allow businesses to work whilst reducing the risk from the virus to the lowest reasonably practicable level and achieved through preventative measures. A five-step approach has been adopted to make the workplace, if your workplace is within or from a vehicle, these five steps are as follows and in order of importance;
1. Completed a Covid-19 Risk Assessment.
2. Maintain hygiene procedures
3. Create a Covid-19 secure workplace
4. Take all reasonable steps to maintain 2m
5. Manage transmission risks
The document covers many different business types and professions. Which is why interpretations can vary greatly, which is also why consultation with the leading industry standards for driver and rider training was necessary to provide a functional framework in which to create a Covid-19 secure in-car teaching space. The National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) http://www.n-a-s-p.co.uk/home/4589216309
Driving Craft works extensively through-out Rugby providing Covid-19 secure driving lessons. It’s achieved by breaking down the process of in-car teaching into three areas of attention, utilising the advice and guidance from these three authorities. The three areas of attention are, Learner Driver, Driving Instructor and the Teaching Vehicle.
Learner Driver - The learner driver, either new to driving, or returning after lockdown, will need to complete a health questionnaire prior to starting lessons and must maintain this level of health disclosure through the entire period of learning. The questions focus on Covid-19 symptoms and whether or not the learner driver has had contact with anyone who is symptomatic. In addition, they must wear a face covering, unless there is a medical reason or for safety reason, as to why wearing a face covering wouldn't be appropriate. They must also sanitise their hands when they enter the vehicle as well as following a cough or a sneeze during the driving lesson.
Driving Instructor - The instructor will wear a face covering and sanitise their hands immediately prior to the start of a driving lesson. They will where possible, avoid touching the steering wheel, gear stick or other commonly touched surfaces, unless for safety reasons, or for the purpose of teaching a particular skill or technique during a driving lesson. After the point of touching a common surface they will sanitise their hands again.
Teaching Vehicle - The vehicle is the primary linking factor which if left unattended, could lead to the transmission of a virus between instructor and also students to student. This is why the vehicle is cleaned prior to the start of each lesson as well as at the end of each lesson, paying attention to commonly touched surfaces, such as steering wheel, outer and inner door handles as well as the various levers needed to adjust the driver’s seat. In addition to cleaning and hygiene procedures the vehicle is also valeted a minimum of once a week.
When you combine these steps, you can be assured that driving lessons and in particular the vehicle being used, has been sanitised to such a degree that we are able to reduce the risk from the virus to the lowest reasonably practicable level.
So, is it safe to learn to drive?.... the answer is YES, as long as the correct steps are taken to mitigate transmission of Covid-19.