Driver Fatigue: The Tired Tale Continues…

2. Transition to Recommendations

So – what about the percentage of the workforce who spend a significant portion of their working week behind the wheel?  For fleets that don’t have the same regulations and practices of the commercial transportation market some suggestions follow:

Drivers have a limited ability to predict when they will fall asleep and by continuing to drive when sleepy, they place themselves and others at great risk of a serious crash. Controlling fatigue requires cooperation between employers and employees. There are early warning signs when a person is sleepy – drivers should be trained on these signs and have company supported counter-measures so drivers do not ignored signs when driving.

Driver drowsiness awareness indicators need to include:

  • A drowsy/sleepy feeling;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Difficulty keeping eyes open;
  • Head nodding;
  • Excessive yawning; and
  • Repeatedly drifting out of lane.

Factors that are predictive of driver fatigue include:

  • not feeling refreshed after sleep;
  • a greater tendency to fall asleep while at work;
  • more frequent naps during leisure hours;
  • feelings of sleepiness;
  • extended sleep during days off; and
  • increased errors and loss of concentration at work.

Drivers need to be aware that using the radio, air-conditioning, or other “tricks” to stimulate alertness, has limited effect and will not overcome tiredness. Stimulants, like caffeine, will provide a temporary boost but do not reduce the need for sleep. Sleep that is delayed will need to be made up later.

Nest week we will look at some recommendations on how to deal with driver fatigue in the workplace.