To prevent driver fatigue, you cannot rely solely on legislation governing driving and off-duty time. Your lifestyle also plays a major role! The North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP) could be very helpful to you.
Driver fatigue, in brief
Fatigue is a gradual decline of physical and mental alertness that can lead to drowsiness or sleepiness.
Fatigue impairs our faculties, and we often do not even realize it. Just like alcohol, accumulated fatigue reduces our ability to concentrate, affects our judgment and reflexes, and thus our ability to drive.
Although heavy vehicle drivers are not the only ones to be subject to fatigue at the wheel, they are particularly concerned by this problems due to:
long work hours
the long distances covered
Did you know?
Fatigue is one of the leading causes of death on our roads, along with alcohol, speeding and distraction.
Recognizing the signs of fatigue
You yawn often
Your eyes are burning
You have trouble keeping your eyes open
You have trouble:
finding a comfortable position, e.g. shifting around in your seat
concentrating and staying attentive, e.g. missing an exit
maintaining a steady speed and keeping the vehicle on a straight course
Your reactions are slower
You have memory lapses, e.g. you can’t remember the last few kilometres driven
You are seeing things that are not there, particularly when there is fog or on monotonous stretches of highway, e.g. you think you see an animal on the road
What to do at the first signs of fatigue
When fatigue sets in, the only way to counteract it is to pull over in a safe location to:
take a 15- to 30-minute nap
take a break
stretch your legs and perform a few simple physical exercises
notify your manager of your state of fatigue
To manage your fatigue on a daily basis
Fatigue cannot be controlled, that is, you cannot simply "decide" to be less tired. The only solution is to sleep.
You must make the most of the time provided to recover so you can function well at work. You need to:
plan your free time so that you get enough sleep
exercise and eat healthy meals
plan your itinerary by factoring circadian "low points"
consult a physician if you think you have a sleep disorder
In general, the risk of a driver being involved in a fatigue-related accident depends on a number of factors:
the number of waking hours
the time of day
the biological clock
the sleep debt
alcohol, drug or medication use
a sleep disorder
A combination of factors considerably increases the risk. Know and respect your limits!
The effects of a long period of wakefulness: similar to the effects of alcohol
A laboratory study (Williamson and Feyer, 2000) compared the effects of a long period of wakefulness to the effects of alcohol (blood alcohol concentration):
Between 17 and 19 hours of wakefulness: Physical and mental capacities are comparable to those of a person with a blood alcohol concentration of 50 mg of alcohol/100 ml of blood (0.05)
After 24 hours of wakefulness: Physical and mental capacities are comparable to those of a person with a blood alcohol concentration of 100 mg of alcohol/100 ml of blood (0.10)
In the long run
Inadequate or poor sleep can have adverse effects on your overall health.
North American Fatigue Management Program
This program is designed to address the issue of driver fatigue with a comprehensive approach that includes:
information on how to develop a corporate culture that facilitates reduced driver fatigue
fatigue management education
information on sleep disorders screening and treatment
driver and trip scheduling information
information on fatigue management technologies
The main goal is to understand fatigue and the importance of proper sleep hygiene and a healthy lifestyle.
The program also aims to:
reduce fatigue among drivers
improve their quality of life
lower the rate of accidents caused by fatigue and the related costs
Who should take the training
Driver spouses and family
Motor carriers (regardless of the size of the business or the type of activities carried out)