November 15, 2018
An estimated one thousand people die each year having nodded off at the wheel, while a safety foundation's report says the number is over 6,000. In some utility sectors like energy and oil and gas, drowsy driving is a noted hazard as personnel regularly drive home or to a remote site or camp that is hours away after a long shift at work. A large number of drowsy driving incidents occur during work commutes.
It has become an area of serious concern for sales fleets, utility fleets, health care and similar fleets who are creating fatigue management policies as a protective measure and to improve productivity. The U.S. Census Bureau has termed any commute of 90 or more minutes and 50 or more miles as a ‘mega commute’. The safety of hundreds of thousands of workers needs to be addressed by management policies that include education for personnel about the risks related to drowsy driving, and by advising workers to exercise, follow good dietary practices and to take timed breaks during the course of their work shift.
Companies of all sizes have drawn up policies that prescribe rest breaks and to avoid instances of workers driving back immediately after a shift if they are fatigued. The periodic breaks and careful eating can ensure that personnel are able to maintain energy levels and alertness during driving.
Findings from Azuga’s newly released accident risk model suggest that accidents can increase by as much as 9.1% for every mile driven between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. Additionally, accident risk increases by 8.3% when a driver is fatigued and behind the wheel for more than six hours.
There are several measures that employers are looking at in order to prevent accidents from fatigued driving. One of them is to arrange for buses from remote worksites so that personnel leaving after work do not drive. Another is to consult a specialist to organize napping intervals for workers that are incorporated into the work shift. It may also be possible to create areas in the premises where a tired worker can get about three hours of sleep before setting out.
However, driver fatigue is a phenomenon that also sets in over a longer term. This is the reason why it’s important to ensure a full day off every week. Risk of fatigue-related accidents is much higher when personnel are at work for consecutive days or nights as their fatigue level builds up over a period of weeks, which is why in addition to an adequate rest period daily, they need at least a day off every week. Safe driving practices typically have to be reinforced all the time – both during work hours and away from work.
The latest analysis-based consultative solution from Azuga helps fleets monitor driver behavior, reduce risk and lower costs related to driving incidents.