Presence of mind is required while driving because having distractions might lead to tragedy. One of the top reasons that cause loss of awareness in driving is fatigue. Fatigue may slow down alertness and awareness from danger. Based on studies, 10 to 20 percent of most fatal crashes that are reported each year involve tired drivers. This had caused damage and injuries to the driver, other people, and properties that were hit by the accident.
What’s worse is the damage it had caused to the company and the big loss it incurred financially. Truly, driver fatigue can be one of the major problems that businesses have to face and solve. It will affect the company’s productivity and operational costs and put its name at risk. Among other projects of the business, driver fatigue management must be reinforced to your mobile or fleet workforce.
Ways To Prevent Fatigued Drivers
If you’ll recognize the causes of fatigue, what are your plans to prevent it? What will you do to reduce fatigue-related issues to eliminate the risks of road driving? To determine these plans, we come up with these four ways to reduce fatigue in your drivers that will ensure their safety while driving.
Identify The Problem And Start Planning
There are a lot of reasons why a driver experiences fatigue. No one may ever know those reasons because nobody’s with them during working hours. An employer can never be with his employees 24/7 and observe their sleeping habits while they’re home. Knowing what these factors are can help to discuss it with your employees and resolve these issues.
- Lack of enough sleep, usually less than the required 7-9 hours sleep
- Biological clock problems during changes on his work shift
- A health condition that needs medication causing drowsiness and may affect his driving performance
- Diet and fitness lifestyle
- Age-related issues and his life back home
- A sleeping disorder like apnea and insomnia
- Alcohol drinking and drugs
- Time of day pertaining to his shift
- Culture practices inside the company he is serving
- Length of working hours that sometimes exceeds the required 8-hour shift
- Insufficient rest periods during work
- Shifting of work schedules that might affect the body clock
- Too much workload that affects the physical and mental state
- Stress due to noise, heat, and vibrations
- Access to some areas for resting
- Road situations and weather conditions
- The type and the tedious, same route of travel
- Hard to remember recent events during travel and hallucinating
- Can’t maintain consistent speeds
- Slower reaction time and reduced alertness
- Causes blurry vision
- Often irritable and absent-minded
- Neglecting mirror checking and exit routes
- Uncomfortable and has trouble looking for a relaxed position
- Changing lanes involuntarily and delayed braking
- Unable to make decisions and judgments
Identifying the causes and effects of fatigue is a start-up. From here, plan ahead and come up with policies and procedures that you will discuss with your employees. Implementation of the guidelines must be followed to achieve the goal of eliminating the risks that will put the drivers and the name of the company at stake.
Reinforce Enough Sleep And Rest
Lack of sleep is the number one cause of fatigue and eventually leads to accidents. Proper sleep requires 7-8 hours to suffice rest which would help the body and mind to function well during work. Yes, it’s the employee’s responsibility to get enough sleep and retain good habits in driving, but a follow-up can make a big effect. It would gain positive results if you encourage open communication to know their current state before driving such as knowing if they’re sleepy.
Being drowsy affects performance and proceeding to drive is something that shouldn’t be ignored. There are times of the day where people tend to be sleepy especially during after lunch or early afternoon. Having microsleep, characterized as an involuntary loss of being conscious for a while where the head falls and abruptly closes the eyes that last for a few minutes or seconds, can lead to an accident. It happens when a driver is so tired and wants to stay awake, fighting the urge to sleep in order to do his job.
Other companies facilitate nap rooms where their drivers can take a nap before leaving and run a vehicle for long hours. However, the employee’s part should be reinforced like eating a proper diet and avoiding alcohol drinking before going to work. Fatigue management training must include knowing the symptoms such as yawning, nodding the head off frequently, and bloodshot eyes. It’s a must that they stop and avoid driving for more than straight 4 hours upon feeling fatigued. If these symptoms are noticed, talk to them and replace them if there’s another available driver to do the task. Or just let them take a nap to recover from sleepiness.
While driving, if sleepiness can’t be helped, consider pulling over and taking a break before driving again. Keep the inside of the vehicle cool and comfy as heat creates drowsiness. Take a cup of coffee or take a 15-minute nap after setting an alarm. After waking up, walk around for 5-10 minutes to set the mind before going. Listen to music to stay awake and always drink water. Providing guidelines and facilities like these would help them manage sleepiness and safety protocols.
Create A Suitable Schedule
It is indeed a tight job to run a fleet of vehicles for business. A lot of things need to be considered such as the proper scheduling of your employees. It would help them adjust to their body clock as they continue to do their daily tasks if their schedule is consistent. This will lessen the possibility of being fatigued.
It may affect their daily routines if there’s frequent changing of shifts. Allow them to prepare and adjust from the tasks they were used to by announcing the change in schedule ahead of time. Work hours that will exceed more than 10 hours is exhausting. During scheduling, see to it that even rest periods are included with their allotted hours as well as loading and unloading time as this may also consume additional time to be spent. Plan the scheduled delivery time and place and include the rest areas.
You may alter your driver that had accumulated fatigue with a rested one to continue the work. Flexibility among your employees varies but it’s most needed when handling work in different shifts. Enduring restlessness and the stress of their job is a big challenge they need to conquer. These traits are a big advantage to the company they are working for.
Therefore, it’s best to maximize their strength and at the same time enhance fatigue management as part of their daily schedule. It could be a good idea to reward those employees who are empowered to do their tasks and show their ability that they can do more than expected. It is a great responsibility to genuinely show concern for the welfare of your employees.
Knowing the problems and introducing ways and techniques is the best way to manage fatigue within your employees. There are measures that would need thorough planning from the management and the drivers’ cooperation to reach the goal- to stop or minimize fatigue-causing accidents. However, continuous supervision is needed to make this work and achieve it.
Incorporating the use of new technology is a great tool to determine the effectiveness of fatigue management such as logging devices, telematics, and a fitness-for-duty examination. Telematics and other video technology refer to the system which monitors and records movements of vehicles through GPS. The electronic logging device notifies the employer of how many hours each driver spent behind the wheel and their status of duty. Fitness-for-duty test is done to employees by the employer’s request to examine their capability to work physically, mentally, and safely with their given task. This is to ensure that they are fit to work or go back to work after a leave.
By continuous monitoring, maintenance of trucks and equipment are required then the same goes with the procedures you implement with fatigue management. It must be reviewed and often updated to determine the outcome in preventing driver fatigue. For every evaluation done, there must be a review of procedures and eventually improve it or correct the ones that didn’t correspond with the necessary adjustments needed. Drivers may be asked if the guidelines were met and if these are helpful in performing their jobs.
Drivers are an essential part of any business in order to carry and deliver goods or provide speedy services. Therefore, raising awareness regarding the goals of the company must involve concern for the employee’s welfare. It must include continuous training to urge and motivate them to apply the good points that were discussed during forums.
Re-evaluate their performance, the procedures, and guidelines if they fit and are followed by the employees. There are insurers who can be a partner to strategize that understand the need to address this issue and offer solutions to solve the stated problems. This is to ensure that no one gets to encounter risks and accidents behind the wheel again and in the future travels that they need to drive through.