A new programme focusing on fleet safety and the wellbeing of professional drivers has been launched this week.

The ‘Mindfulness for Professional Drivers’ course, created by the Guild of Mindful Driver Trainers, is now available for teams of up to 12 employees to ease stress and give drivers the tools to manage pressure and anxiety in the future.

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present that is achieved through focused attention, coupled with a non-judgmental approach to current experiences. It is recognised by the NHS as a method of improving mental wellbeing.

Research carried out by Nottingham Trent University in 2017 showed that drivers who are naturally more mindful, generally have lower engagement with distracting tasks while driving. They also have an increased ability to manage stress and physical pain in a new way.

The six-week online course, which consists of 1.5 hourly sessions once a week, can be delivered either during the working day, weekends or evenings and counts as Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Professor David Crundall, the Research Excellence Framework Coordinator for Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, said: ‘Thousands of academic studies have demonstrated the links between mindfulness and improvements in a variety of measures, including reduced anxiety, protection from distraction and enhanced attention to tasks.

‘Many of these outcomes should theoretically benefit drivers, and our recent studies at Nottingham Trent University have indeed demonstrated that training in mindfulness can improve the way we drive, both in simulators and on real roads.’

According to the Health and Safety Executive, mental health issues (including stress, depression, anxiety and serious conditions) resulted in 17.9 million working days lost the UK in 2019/20.

Mindfulness for drivers can improve mental health and lead to happier, calmer people, which in turn can improve efficiency at work and reduce sickness absence.

With more than a quarter of all road traffic incidents believed to involve somebody who is driving as part of their work at the time, mindfulness can also play an important role in improving road safety and in benefiting the communities in which drivers are working.