Driver fatigue syndrome is a common cause of most reported highway accidents and road crashes involving carriers. About 100,000 road mishaps involving trucks in past years were attributed to driver fatigue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This condition accounts for 31% of road accidents involving heavy vehicles. With the serious implications of driver fatigue in road safety, the authorities have implemented more-rigid safety standards that can eliminate driver fatigue and reduce road accidents involving large trucks.
Compliance with the regulation of hours of driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prescribes a new regulation on hours of driving among commercial motor vehicles. The provisions of the regulation provide that truck drivers should be allotted a maximum of 70 weekly driving hours with a minimum of 34 consecutive hours of rest. Truck drivers should also be entitled to a 30-minute break between eight hours of driving shifts. Following this regulation will provide truck drivers with more hours of rest and eliminate driver fatigue.
Understanding fatigue-impaired driving
Fatigue becomes a threat to road safety when truck drivers are unable to get sufficient rest before going out the road. Some dry-van carriers may have increased demand for their transportation services, and drivers are docked with a longer weekly mileage. Short-haul trucking drivers are less likely to be exposed to driving fatigue compared to those engaged in the freight transportation services. Driving a heavy vehicle requires a higher level of alertness, driving skill, judgment and reflexes. These are diminished when a driver is tired and fatigued.
Among the common causes of driving fatigue are sleep deprivation and the lack of rest breaks between long driving-hour periods. Fatigue can adversely affect driving performance and the ability to operate vehicles with good judgment. It is common for drivers who are tired to doze off while driving and may experience a diminished field of vision that can lead to road accidents.
Driver fatigue solutions to improve road safety
Corporate culture can significantly affect the quality of truck driver work conditions. Proper management of driver schedules can help reduce the risk of driving fatigue among truck drivers. Training drivers on how to respond to fatigue while driving can help educate them to become more concerned about road safety. Teach drivers to recognize the symptoms of fatigue, such as frequent yawning and nodding off, poor reflexes such as delayed breaking and involuntary changing of lanes. When this occurs, advise your truck drivers to pull over to a safe location and take a short nap. A 30-minute nap will suffice to bring back alertness and concentration on truck driving. For long hours of driving, it is best to take frequent stops to stretch muscles and break the monotonous long hours of sitting that can interfere with the flow of blood and oxygen to the body and reduce mental alertness.