Trucking Safety Tip of the Month: Driver Fatigue

truck driver fatigue image

Driver fatigue is experienced on the roadway every day. Based on data contained in the NHTSA’s 2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), there were 59 fatal crashes involving a large truck where the truck driver was coded as being “asleep or fatigued.”

While these crashes only accounted for 1.7 percent of all large truck fatal crashes, these were still crashes that could have been prevented. Truck Writers recognizes that roughly 80 percent of crashes involving a truck are caused by passenger vehicles. However, as our country works toward zero deaths, we need to work on also eliminating the other 20 percent.

3 Steps Toward Preventing Driver Fatigue

Driver Fatigue impairs one’s response time to potential hazards on the road. Therefore, it is important to take steps toward decreasing driver fatigue on our nation’s roadways, in order to prevent traffic accidents.

1. Count Some Sheep

According to the CDC, an adult between the age of 16 – 60 needs seven (7) or more hours of sleep per night. However, getting enough sleep isn’t enough. The quality of sleep also plays a role in driver fatigue. Therefore, it is important that no driver gets behind the wheel unless he or she feels well rested.

If a driver does not feel well rested, he or she should consider finding a safe area to pullover and take a nap. Naps should last between 10 to 45 minutes, and one should not drive for at least 15 minutes following.

2. Refuel

Just as a truck needs diesel, the human body needs fuel to run. It is important to make sure no meals are being skipped or eaten at irregular times.

In fact, a 2006 study conducted on the sleeping and driving habits of CMV drivers found that an unhealthy lifestyle, long working hours, and sleeping problems were the main causes of driver fatigue.

3. Avoid Inducing Drowsiness

Spring is in full-swing, which means allergens have taken over. Double-check allergy pills, as well as any other medications, for a “do not operate heavy vehicles or machinery during use” warning. Consult a physician for other medication options, if the warning is found.

Signs of Driver Fatigue

According to the National Sleep Foundation, these are a few of the signs that a driver should stop and rest:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

Blasting music, rolling down the windows, and drinking one’s weight in coffee is not enough to prevent driver fatigue. If the driver of a vehicle experiences any of the above symptoms of driver fatigue, he or she should find a safe place to pull over.

Truck Writers works with its clients in the transportation industry to improve risk management and employer safety programs. To see examples, click here.

To learn more information about Truck Writers’ trucking insurance offerings, contact an agent today.

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