Mar 14, 2012 / by Alisa Hafen / No Comments

Recently, we have seen much in the news about injuries and deaths related to texting while driving. However, there is another “condition” that is contributing to several accidents:
Driver Fatigue.

Safety must be our main concern and I believe that everyone has the right to leave work in the same condition as when they arrived. This has to include driving to and from work.

Many of us have irregular and unpredictable work schedules. These conditions can lead to inadequate sleep periods. Driver drowsiness has become a dominant factor regarding work related accidents.

The strongest and most consistent factor of fatigue is time of day. Obviously, drowsiness is greater during night driving than during the day.

Most people are programmed to sleep during periods of darkness. Those who attempt to do otherwise usually experience poor quality sleep and a reduced level of performance. Statistically, 75% of accidents that occur between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am were fatigue related.

Most drivers state that they actually do indeed fall asleep at the wheel. Some of the warning signs to be watchful for are the following: continuous yawning; eyes drooping or closing frequently; and head dropping.

Now, for some suggestions to counter the above: minimize the amount of scheduled driving during the hours of midnight to 6:00 am, especially at the end of a work shift.

Try to establish regular work schedules. Changing your sleep cycle can degrade the quality of sleep obtained. Allow time for sufficient sleep by maximizing the amount of off duty time between driving tasks. This permits one to obtain the quantity of sleep their body requires.

As an employer, provide valuable information regarding training and literature to the drivers and their families. This will make them more aware of factors relating to fatigue.

Encourage your drivers to use “power naps” to refresh the mind and body, as power naps have been found to be extremely beneficial prior to work cycles. Drivers can develop habits that minimize the effects of fatigue such as getting good nutrition by avoiding heavy meals before driving.

Set sensible schedules by taking a break every 2-3 hours. Avoid caffeinated beverages before sleep.
Following the above recommendations will help us all to come and go in safety.

“Fatigue is what we experience, but it is what a match is to an atomic bomb”

Laura Hillenbrand