End of Weekend Driving

#1
Just thought I'd raise a point that came up in conversation having watched the latest police-camera-action style program 'Coppers' on 4.

Last week (available on 4OD), some 2Lt is seen having fallen asleep at the wheel on the motorway, and creamed his car into a road sign. He's still got cam cream on and is evidently just off ex. It could be regular, but it's said to be sunday evening which just sounds very TA to me.

What we were discussing was whether the TA need to (or at least should) take people's personal driving agendas into account with eat sleep cards, not just drivers of MoD vehicles. If you are driving on duty, you will be chased and pestered about filling in your eat sleep cards, and those in charge will make sure that before a driving duty you get the required amount of sleep, meal time, rest time etc. However, if you are not driving on duty, there is nothing that says those in charge can't run you into the ground with a full weekend of no sleep. And it has been known, too.

With some TA soldiers facing a lengthy drive home post-ex, my question is should there be provision to ensure that all drivers, regardless of whether they are driving on or after duty, get sufficient rest to be safe drivers? Yes, I appreciate that there is no legal requirement, but should the TA recognise that they do have some level of responsibility for the wellbeing of their blokes, and sending them off on a drive home already ready to pass out is a bit irresponsible IMO. And I can't imagine many PSIs would be willing to keep the TA centre open for another 5 hours on sunday night so that everyone can go and pass out on their roll mats for a few hours.

In addition to taking some level of responsibility for their peoples' welfare, the guy on 'Coppers' was still in kit and cam cream, and if anyone wants to watch it on 4OD I'm sure you'll agree it's not particularly positive P.R for the TA - and would be even worse if he'd have creamed his car (or a bigger one) into the back of a young family coming back from holiday and killed a pair of kids - it does happen after all.

Thoughts?
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#2
Its a long time since I've been on an exercise at weekends when there was not an overnight stand down for this very reason. Anecdotally I gather its the norm now. Partly because we don't want to kill anyone on the way home and partly because we don't want to send soldiers back to work on Monday morning not fit to get on with their civilian jobs.

Perhaps it should be policy that all weekend Ex stand down between midnight and 0600.
 
#3
Has been the policy for RAuxAF for a long time and it's unlikely that any unit would be that H&S niaive to give the ambulance-chasers a chance to sue the arse off the MoD.

My Sqn have also cancelled weekends under the duty of care banner when driving conditions have warranted it.

Bad luck that feller - although he'll probably end up with a chick-magnet of a duelling scar.
 
#4
Good point and a timely reminder. As ever a sensible approach is required. Work through Friday night, enforced rest on Saturday night. Sending people home with a big sleep debt on Sunday can lead to problems on Monday too.

Mid way through SGC, at a company party, the DS skit was a song about the 75% of car owners in the coy who had written their cars off in the last 4 months, most of them having fallen asleep at the wheel. (This was in spite of an enforced night's sleep post exercise). It was all very amusing at the time, sadly 3 OCdts were killed in a road accident a couple of months later.
 
#5
Well being in the infantry most the exercises We have involve very little sleep. With a rest period included we wouldn't be able to cover the training being conducted. The most recent exercise my platoon went from QRF to Guarding the Fob(attacked and IDF'd) until reveille for breakfast then more lessons throughout the day with hardly any sleep, The lads were being woken up and gripped throughout the lessons, Driving home that night was truly an experience I wont forget.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#6
Well being in the infantry most the exercises We have involve very little sleep. With a rest period included we wouldn't be able to cover the training being conducted. The most recent exercise my platoon went from QRF to Guarding the Fob(attacked and IDF'd) until reveille for breakfast then more lessons throughout the day with hardly any sleep, The lads were being woken up and gripped throughout the lessons, Driving home that night was truly an experience I wont forget.
I'm sorry but it's just another factor that exercise planners should take into account. I would question the training value of lessons where 'the lads' are all falling asleep. I doubt they learnt much from that.
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#7
I'm sorry but it's just another factor that exercise planners should take into account. I would question the training value of lessons where 'the lads' are all falling asleep. I doubt they learnt much from that.
Agreed. If you are teaching, then you should aim to provide sufficient rest to allow the information to be absorbed.

If you are testing, then it gets more difficult. A 36 hour TA exercise cycle based on a FOB type scenario does not lend itself to a "down tools" for 8 hours on the Saturday night, as that is when the night routine should be being exercised.

A decent option is to have an early enough knock off on the Sunday so that people can either drive home before exhaustion really sets in, or they have the option of grabbing a few hours kip at the TAC before driving home. I have certainly done both in the past.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#8
Agreed. If you are teaching, then you should aim to provide sufficient rest to allow the information to be absorbed.

If you are testing, then it gets more difficult. A 36 hour TA exercise cycle based on a FOB type scenario does not lend itself to a "down tools" for 8 hours on the Saturday night, as that is when the night routine should be being exercised.

A decent option is to have an early enough knock off on the Sunday so that people can either drive home before exhaustion really sets in, or they have the option of grabbing a few hours kip at the TAC before driving home. I have certainly done both in the past.
Or accept that night routine is something we do before 2359 and on annual camp but not overnight at weekends. I hate false H and S but this is perhaps a real issue.
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#9
Or accept that night routine is something we do before 2359 and on annual camp but not overnight at weekends. I hate false H and S but this is perhaps a real issue.
No - Night routine is something that must be practiced. In the HFT environment, you are looking at the basics of night navigation/patrols/insertion for dawn attacks etc. If we ignore everything between say 2359 and 0600 we write this off for 6 months of the year. The requirement is for rest - it doesn't have to be during the dark hours.

Plan your exercise so that the pattern of life is slow through the afternoons but builds up at night, or have endex at early doors Sunday and enforced rest back at the TAC if required - jacking on night operations is not an option.
 
#10
As a PSI within a Transport Regt I can confirm there is a system in place to prevent this sort of thing happening. However as Im not a driver I cant tell you what it is?
I have heard it bantered around that we have to knock off early to give people plenty of time to rest before driving home.
 
#12
No - Night routine is something that must be practiced. In the HFT environment, you are looking at the basics of night navigation/patrols/insertion for dawn attacks etc. If we ignore everything between say 2359 and 0600 we write this off for 6 months of the year. The requirement is for rest - it doesn't have to be during the dark hours.

Plan your exercise so that the pattern of life is slow through the afternoons but builds up at night, or have endex at early doors Sunday and enforced rest back at the TAC if required - jacking on night operations is not an option.
There are ways of making things workable for drivers, and including sensible night time routine with training value (not just the compulsorary ****-around factor). I have been on PB-based exercises, in which the reserve or QRF troop have had chance to gonk during the day, rotating on a 2-3 hourly basis with the 'active' troops. During the Winter time, you can get in a good 10 hours of night time routine from 17:00 to 03:00 on Saturday night, followed by a decent period of down-time until say 08:00.

A have also seen very poor examples of 'enforced rest', during which the troops were leaguered on bare-arsed ground in blazing sunshine, alongside an admin packet (or racket) making shite loads of noise folding down kit, drinking brews, and watching "the A-Hole Team" for the 15th time on the Bedford Home-Cinema system. The rest period should be exactly that - for rest, and not for 'box-ticking'.

Unfortunately, too many TA Exercises are based on the principle of too many people doing too many things in a short space of time. The only thing people learn is how not to run a sustainable battle-rythym on operations.
 
#13
Unfortunately, too many TA Exercises are based on the principle of too many people doing too many things in a short space of time. The only thing people learn is how not to run a sustainable battle-rythym on operations.
You've heard the stories from a TA TOSCA, I take it :)

msr
 
#15
Has been the policy for RAuxAF for a long time and it's unlikely that any unit would be that H&S niaive to give the ambulance-chasers a chance to sue the arse off the MoD.

My Sqn have also cancelled weekends under the duty of care banner when driving conditions have warranted it.

Bad luck that feller - although he'll probably end up with a chick-magnet of a duelling scar.
He did, I was on Platoon Tactics course at brecon with him, It is a nice reminder not to fall asleep at the wheel
 
#16
Have been on many exercises over weekends, drive stores wagon to area on advance party, meet main party, play soldiers Sat, Sun then drive home after maybe 2 hours sleep. Completed the eat sleep card correctly and passed it up the chain. Pack all stores away Sun morning, climb in wagon and after about an hour, face starts to glow, sandman is coming. Long blinks, but looked upon as a militant for stating the need to sleep. The attitude was we used to manage before, so we will carry on, the paperwork is a formality.
 
#17
^ an all too common scenario, I'd suggest.

Ask he CoC how they'd react should the SIB question why the driver of a TCV fell asleep and piled into a minibus full of Nurses. Or something.
 

chrisg46

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
^ an all too common scenario, I'd suggest.

Ask he CoC how they'd react should the SIB question why the driver of a TCV fell asleep and piled into a minibus full of Nurses. Or something.
That will teach the busload of nurses to not be late in future :)

I have thought about this issue for a while, but never heard it discussed. The way it seems for my unit is that drivers have a stand down over night, then the others are expected to sleep on way back to TAC after endex. Its not perfect, but seems a working compromise...
 
#19
Bottom line is ,its the driver WHO KNOWS HIS LIMITATIONS if he is safe to drive and if not STOP,
Is that TRULY an option though?

Coming off exercise in wet muddy kit at 1600, then driving across the country to get from TAC to home; is stopping at a travel lodge, sleeping, then driving on home, then post-ex admin, then some more sleep, then up at 0600 for work really possible? I suppose, if you took a suit to the TAC, you could change at the hotel and go straight to work, but I think there'd be some unhappy TA soldiers nevermind wives. Not to mention the fact that everyone would probably start to demand JPA expenses to cover the travel lodge, dinner & breakfast in services etc, as it was the TA's fault that they were having to stop.

As BB said, it's probable that the head shed would say 'back in my day, we'd do 48 hours solid in the field then drive home, what's changed?' but if, as others say, enforced rest periods are becoming more common that can only be a good thing. The only problem I can foresee is the lack of availability of night-training available, especially in summer. It would also probably reduce the potential for 24-hour exercises, as friday night is usually spent with everyone sorting their lives out until zero dark hundred and then going to bed, and saturday morning spent working out why only 20% of the estimated turnout has actually turned up and what can be done with a company of blokes when a battalion had been planned for. Stag and radio watch would probably have to be written off too, as I think the book says 'uninterrupted sleep' not just 'sleep' (or 'rest', whichever it is).
 

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