Can your business cope with driver fatigue?

Can your business cope with driver fatigue?

We all know the feeling. It’s almost the end of the working day and you’ve had a real busy patch lately. You’re pretty tired, and although you know you probably shouldn’t drive home feeling so weary, you’re given confidence by the knowledge that it’ll probably be okay – after all, it has always worked out in the past. So you get in the car and start the engine.

Opening the window and switching on the radio, you take a deep breath and set off for home. And most of the time, you’ll get there.

However, it is important to remember that no-one ever sets off on a journey with the goal of falling asleep at the wheel. Yes, that sounds obvious – but with alarming regularity, the outcome of just such a situation as that set about above is a heartbreaking one.

Research suggests that almost 20 per cent of accidents on major roads are linked to driver fatigue, and that sleep-related accidents are more likely than other causes to result in a fatality or serious injury. And fleet managers, too, should take note: around 40 per cent of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles.

All is not doom and gloom, however. Although most certainly the root cause of a great deal of sadness and frustration, every sleep-related road accident is avoidable. That, I believe, is a serious cause for hope.

Tiredness does not come upon us suddenly: in every case the tired driver is given a certain degree of warning – which means that, through education and awareness raising, we really can turn things around.  So instead of ignoring the warning signs, we must learn to acknowledge them and to deal with them effectively. The following advice can help to reduce the number of sleep-related road accidents:

  • Plan your journey in such a way that you allow for a 15 minute break every two hours. Where possible, try not to have to set off too early in the morning and try to avoid driving between midnight and 6am.
  • Remember that if you’re feeling unwell, you may end up compounding the effects of driving whilst tired. If you are taking medication, this may also have an adverse effect on your ability to drive. Always check the medication’s instructions and warnings and make alternative travel arrangements where necessary.
  • Don’t set off on a long journey if you’re already feeling tired.
  • If you’re on the road and begin to feel sleepy, find a place to pull over have a rest. If you can, drink some coffee. It will take around 15 minutes for the caffeine to take effect.

Of course, the only true solution to the driver fatigue problem is quality rest and sleep. Although often easier said than done, it is only through sufficient rest and recuperation that will you be able to stay safe and alert behind the wheel. For more information, click here. We all know how it feels to be tired behind the wheel. The important thing is that we make sure that we know how to deal with it effectively.