Staying Awake Behind the Wheel: An All-In-One Safety Program

Feb 6, 2021 | Personal Insurance

Did you know that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 91,000 crashes reported that involved the factor of drowsy driving—and that they led to almost 800 deaths and around 50,000 injuries?

If you run a business where many of your employees drive vehicles in your fleet, then you want to give your employees the best tips for staying awake while driving. This is both because you want them to be safe and because you want them to carry out their job efficiently.

But you may not be sure about the best advice to give. This can be stressful because if you don’t give the right advice or give it in such a way that it isn’t instilled in your employees, you could be putting lives at risk.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide. By giving you the best tips your employees can use to stay awake while driving, you can ensure that they’re driving safely no matter what. You can stop worrying and focus on what matters: running your business. Read on to learn more.

Give Your Employees The Facts

The first thing you need to do, even before giving tips to stay awake while driving, is to give your employees the facts about the seriousness of driving when exhausted. Many people don’t realize that driving when tired can be as dangerous as driving when drunk. Some statistics to share with your employees include:

  • When it comes to fatal car crashes, over 20% of them are caused by a drowsy driver
  • Fatigue-related crashes come with a cost: $109 billion are lost by society whenever this type of crash occurs
  • If a driver drives for over 20 hours straight without taking a break to sleep, their driving will be the same as if they had a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, which is over the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol

By giving your employees this information, they’ll understand that there are serious consequences to driving while tired. Additionally, remind them that there are federal regulations put in place to avoid drivers driving for extended periods of time.

By understanding both the practical and legal effects of their behavior, the drivers in your company will be careful about how long they drive on the road and use the right strategies to stay awake.

Tips for Staying Awake While Driving

If your team is made up of people using a fleet of vehicles to drive long distances over long hours, then you need to provide them with ways to stay awake while driving. This way, you can assure their safety as well as that of other drivers on the road. Here are some tips you can give your employees.

Get the Sleep You Need

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to help a person avoid drowsiness. Generally speaking, your employees should be sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night. If there’s a lot of pressure in your company to work long hours, set up a system with HR to ensure that there is no penalization for your employees getting the sleep they need.

Pull Over if Necessary

Another piece of advice to give your employees, if they’re driving long hours as chauffeurs or delivery drivers, is to tell them to pull over if necessary. This should be a last-minute option since it will happen if they’re already exhausted. But by giving your employees this choice, they can take a twenty-minute nap to avoid a car accident caused by drowsiness.

Be Positive

If your employees need a quick energy boost, they can read positive quotations or self-affirming stories when pulled over or parked in the car. Having a book written by a comedian can also lift the spirits.

Fun Spotify Playlists

By providing your employees with jams they can rock out to, they’re likely to stay awake and focused while driving for your company. Create playlists on Spotify for them, or recommend ones made by the company used for workouts or road trips. You can also have staff create a playlist all together, where they add their favorite tunes everyone can listen to.

Listen to Audiobooks

Another best way to stay awake while driving is by listening to an entertaining audiobook. Purchase a series for your employees to listen to so they can discuss it with each other off-hours. We recommend gripping tales, such as thrillers and detective novels, or books by comedians that will keep them laughing and awake while they drive.

Eye Drops

If your drivers are driving for long periods of time, their eyes will eventually dry out from being open for so long. To avoid unnecessary irritation and blinking that could cause them to end up in a car accident, provide your drivers with moisturizing eye drops.

Essential Oils

There are many essential oils that can be used to drive up energy levels. According to Healthline, essential oils that boost your energy include lemon, rosemary, spearmint, sweet orange, and peppermint. Supply your drivers with these essential oils in a form they can sniff any time they’re feeling drowsy.

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum while on the road is helpful for any driver who’s having a hard time staying awake while driving. This is because chewing gum has the benefits of boosting your heart rate and keeping your mind awake.

Don’t Use Substances or Medications

There are many substances and medications that can cause your drivers to feel drowsy. Alcohol and illegal substances are a no-no, both for safety and legal reasons. But there are other medications, such as painkillers, which can cause drowsiness even though they’re legal.

If you have any drivers who struggle with alcohol and illegal substances, you should refer them to medical professionals or a rehab center, giving them the time they need to recover from their issues before working with you again.

If this seems to be a problem that recurs to employees in your fleet, then having random alcohol and drug tests might be necessary.

Regarding medications that can cause drowsiness behind the wheel, require your employees to let you know if they receive a prescription for one of these medications.

Whether your employees take medications or struggle with substances, they’re less likely to take these drugs on the road if you provide them with flexible hours and time off. This will allow them to have the time they need to deal with health issues or mental health reasons why they turn to alcohol and substances.

Snack Healthy

Even though many of the snacks sold at gas stations and service areas aren’t great for your health, your employees should do what they can to eat healthy snacks while driving. Good nutrition is good for all health, having positive benefits on quality of sleep and energy amounts.

When they’re on the road, encourage your employees to pull over and sit for their actual meal, instead of eating potato chips out of a bag while they drive. If they need to snack and drive, suggest that they eat healthy foods such as fruits and nuts.

Stay Hydrated

One of the best ways your employees can stay awake while on the road is by staying hydrated. While they might prefer energy drinks such as RedBull or coffee, they’re better off hydrating with water. Water keeps them cool and energized while driving.

Provide a Training

Now that you know what the tips for staying awake while driving are, you should use them all in a training you give your employees. In this training, you should also cover the facts we covered at the beginning of this article. You should also include information on who is liable if an accident happens that is related to driver drowsiness.

By providing a training, you’ll demonstrate to your employees how serious you are about the dangers of drowsy driving. You’ll also make it more likely that they’ll internalize your company’s rules, tips for staying awake, and what the consequences will be if they drive behind the wheel while feeling drowsy.

Additionally, you can cover any information related to the auto insurance your business uses.

For any new employees, make this training mandatory. Additionally, have a training where you remind everyone of the rules monthly or bi-monthly. You can also give incentives (such as raises, prizes, or time off) to anyone who uses all the strategies you provide.

In addition to the training, it may be worth offering driving school lessons to your employees, especially if your vehicles are specialized.

Document Your Training Materials

Once you’ve provided your employees with a training, you should document the topics covered in training materials. Make these available online, so that your employees can access them at any time. Additionally, you should print them out in booklet form so that every vehicle in your fleet has one.

That way, if any employee needs a refresher on your company’s policy regarding drowsy driving and strategies for staying awake while driving, they can simply pick up the booklet in their vehicle and flip through it.

Use Management Software

Management software is a technology you can use to ensure that your employees don’t drive when they’re drowsy. If your employees spend a lot of time on the road, it’s worth investing in this management software. One of the benefits of using it is that it alerts your drivers if they’re engaging in driving behavior that’s unsafe.

This behavior can include harsh acceleration, hard braking, and speeding. These alerts are sent in what’s close to real-time, which means that your drivers will know immediately if they need to change their driving behavior.

If this behavior is caused by drowsiness, then your driver can do what they need to so that they get more energy, whether that’s putting on some music, drinking water, stopping for a meal, or pulling over for a 20-minute nap.

Additional Technology

There’s additional technology you can use as a business owner with a fleet to ensure your drivers practice safe driving and avoid being drowsy on the road. With e-logging devices, your drivers can track how they’re doing on the road. If it’s a multi-day or multi-week drive, they can report back to you about how often they take breaks, stop to eat, and rest.

By having technology that allows for accountability, your employees will follow your company’s rules and regulations more often.

Additionally, you should think about using dashcams so that you can know how your drivers are doing. If there’s an accident, a dash cam can also help you get an idea of what happened during the crash and if your drivers are the ones who caused it.

Note that if you’re using any of these technologies, you’ll have to let your drivers know. You don’t want to end up with a lawsuit caused by a group of employees who think you’re breaking privacy laws.

To ensure that you aren’t breaking any laws, check what laws related to recording your employees’ actions are federally, in your state, and in any of the states your employees drive through when working for you.

Need More Information?

Do you need more information on helping your employees when it comes to staying awake while driving? Maybe you need additional tips or you’re looking for more information regarding crashes caused by drowsy driving.

Whatever information you might need, we’re here to answer your questions. At Advantage Insurance Solutions, we’re experts when it comes to safety, accidents, and insurance to cover your fleet. To learn more about how we can help you and what insurance could be the right fit for you, contact us here.