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Fleet Safety

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving This Holiday Season

In an unprecedented year, with stay at home orders and deliveries at an all-time high, we know that there will be more fleet drivers on the road this holiday season than ever before.  Fleet managers and safety leaders will be struggling to meet their delivery and service demands while trying to manage their drivers’ hours of service. So how can they avoid the disastrous consequences associated with drowsy driving? 

What is drowsy driving?

The CDC defines drowsy driving as “the dangerous combination of operating a motor vehicle while fatigued or sleepy. Drowsy driving usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen due to untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, and shift work.”

The impact of drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is a serious problem and causes a threat not only to the driver, but to others on the road as well. The US Department of Transportation estimates that 100,000 accidents reported are due to drowsiness and/or fatigue. These crashes result in 1550 deaths annually (4% of traffic fatalities) and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. Contrary to popular belief, the elderly are at lower risk for sleep-related accidents than young adults.

Signs of drowsy driving:

  • Finding it difficult to concentrate, missing your exit
  • Difficulty remembering the last few miles driven
  • Frequently adjusting driving position 
  • Stretching, yawning, and blinking frequently
  • Head nodding, fighting to keep eyes open
  • Drifting from lane to lane, hitting the rumble strip

Drowsy driving can lead to:

  • Attention difficulties
  • Slower reaction times
  • Slower, muddled thinking    
  • Erratic speed control 
  • Sloppy steering

Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol

According to the CDC, studies have shown that going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol. “Being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as someone having a blood content (BAC) of 0.05%. Being awake for at least 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol content of 0.10%. This is higher than the legal limit (0.08% BAC) in all states.

Who is responsible for managing driver tiredness?

Effectively managing driver tiredness is both the responsibility of the organization and the individual. The organization has a legal responsibility and a duty-of-care to provide drivers with a safe system of work that provides adequate time off for sleep and to attend to family and social responsibilities. Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that they use their time off to obtain sufficient sleep and attend work in a fit and rested state.  

How to prevent drowsy driving in your fleets this holiday season:

  1. Educate your drivers: Driver training can assure that your drivers understand the differences between fatigue and drowsiness and the importance of getting enough sleep. Like food and water, we need sleep to survive.  On average we need about 7-8 hours sleep a night. Sleepiness (like hunger or thirst) is a signal from the brain that you are not meeting a vital biological need.  However sleepiness is different, because if you keep ignoring this message, eventually you will fall asleep, whether you want to or not. 
  2. Be proactive: Make sure your drivers plan their long trips ahead of time by plotting out the rest stops in advance, so they can manage their tiredness before it becomes dangerous.

Use a real-time AI driver alert system:

Helping your drivers stop driving drowsy is critical to road safety. Fleet managers do not have the time to ride along with every driver, but they can rely on a driver and fleet safety platform that detects drowsy driving the moment it occurs and coaches drivers to return their focus to the road or pull over and rest — all in real-time.

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