Driver fatigue accidents are a serious problem in the United States. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 100,000 crashes are the result of drowsy driving every year, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12 billion in damages.
Naturally, it makes sense that trucking companies would want to do all they can to avoid these dangerous accidents. Driver fatigue accidents put employees at risk, threaten the lives of those sharing the roads, and could end up costing companies millions of dollars in losses.
Fortunately, if you work for a trucking company, there are steps you can take to avoid driver fatigue accidents within your ranks. Just implement these 6 changes, and your employees – and every other driver on the road – will be all the safer for it.
1. Enforce hours of service regulations – Hours of service regulations are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to safeguard commercial drivers, as well as anyone on the road around them. These regulations set strict time limits for being behind the wheel, and they require regular rest breaks and time off to ensure drivers are at their best. If you want to ensure your trucks aren’t involved in driver fatigue accidents, then do everything you can to enforce these regulations. Install an automated device in each vehicle to track when the truck is moving and when it is at rest. Require your drivers to fill out a logbook detailing their rest breaks, hours behind the wheel, and time off, and have their supervisors check and verify it regularly.
2.Educate drivers on recognizing symptoms of fatigue – In addition to enforcing hours of service, you can also teach your drivers to quickly recognize signs of oncoming drowsiness, so they can pull off the road and take a break. Common symptoms of tiredness include heavy eyelids, yawning, slow reaction times, slow driving speed, stiffness, cramps, and more.
3.Encourage regular breaks – Though hours of service mandate when you must take a break, that doesn’t mean your drivers can’t take more if they need it. In fact, if you want your drivers at their best, you should encourage them to take breaks at least every two hours. Have them get out of the cab, walk around, take a bathroom break, stretch, or grab a bite to eat. These will all help get their blood flowing and keep them alert.
4.Conduct regular health screenings – Improper nutrition, vitamin deficiencies, chronic health conditions, and even obesity can all have a major effect on a driver’s energy. In fact, the poorer their health, the more tired and fatigued they’ll feel, and the more likely they could be involved in an accident. To prevent this, require your drivers to undergo an annual health screening, and check them for any conditions that could affect their ability to stay alert and drive safely.
5. Discourage night driving, if possible – While it’s obviously possible for driver fatigue accidents to occur during the daytime, they’re actually much more common at night. The darkness, the quiet traffic, and the calming hum of the road can all but put a driver to sleep! If possible, discourage your drivers from operating their vehicles in the dark. This alone could greatly decrease the likelihood of a wreck.
6.Conduct truck inspections often – Nothing puts you to sleep like a warm, cozy environment, right? The same goes for truck drivers. That’s why you need to conduct regular, annual inspections of each and every vehicle in your fleet. Make sure the AC and ventilation systems work properly so that your drivers won’t be lulled to sleep by a warm, cozy cab when they’re behind the wheel.
Despite the number of preventative steps you can take, driver fatigue accidents can seem inevitable. If someone on your team is involved in one, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Pat Maloney as soon as possible.