Fleet Driving and Fatigue

Written by John

On June 19, 2020
fleet driver safety

What Is The Connection Between Fleet Driving Accidents and Fatigue?

Fatigue affects your driver safety, and puts them and other road users at risk. Further, if you don’t have a grey fleet driving policy and a fleet driver safety program, you are risking your company reputation, too.

What Do we Know about Fatigue and Driving Behaviour?

Don't sleep on driver fatigue, fleets warned

Well it is something that many do not want to talk about, drivers do not want to through fear of loosing their job. Drivers are out there doing it because they love to drive and want to do it. But the fear of being taken off the road to some is a massive deal to them.

Fleet Driving Safety Tips for Dealing with Fatigue

Did you know that 79% of drivers do not believe their employer understands the dangers of driving whilst fatigued, there are 65% of drivers do not believe their employers would listen if they told them that they are fatigued? So is there something here that employers can do to help their drivers with this? All it takes is to talk about it. Do not make it a thing where your risking the lives of your drivers and make them feel they must do everything they can to get to where they are going no matter what. It is shocking that 83% of drivers admit to driving whilst fatigued and more than 50% of drivers have been fighting fatigue to complete their journeys. What does your company policy state about driving whilst fatigued? Do you allow your drivers the rest breaks and the time off required by the driver’s hours?

I mentioned above that all it takes is to talk. So how often do you have meetings with your drivers? This is not just delivery drivers, this is all that driver for your business from delivery drivers, sales reps, quality managers. So fleet managers and directors could do more to help by having a meeting where any company driver can talk about fatigue or have a open door policy where drivers no matter what their role in your business can go and talk in confidence to you or your fleet managers about their concerns without the fear of losing their jobs. In order to manage driver fatigue effectively fleet managers need to understand what it is and its cause.

Unfortunately, there are many questions that need answering to understand it, without listening to their drivers, fleet operators will not know what is required to put things in place to help, to monitor and have better policies and procedures.

So, questions, feel free to take what you can from this but listen to your drivers also.

What is fatigue? It is not a specific medical condition but a symptom of numerous conditions that cause a state of impairment that can include physical and/or mental elements.

How does fatigue manifest itself? It can be acute and accumulate after a short period on a demanding task or it can be cumulative and build up over successive shifts or long periods of intense pressure.

What are the impacts of fatigue on vehicle fleet driving safety?

Fatigue is associated with lower alertness and reduced performance, thereby making individuals less able to self-assess how impaired they are as they become more fatigued. Ultimately, making the individual unfit to drive.

Now the above questions have been answered, the next question to ask is:

What actually is driver fatigue?

It is a driver who becomes tired due to driving long hours, long distances and/or monotonous journeys. This could be due to poor journey planning with no account for rest breaks, poor time management with unrealistic appointments/delivery slots, desensitisation on regular routes, just wanting to get the job done and get home and a lack of contingency planning for when things go wrong.

However, under no circumstances should anyone be mistaken that the above are the only causes of driver fatigue. A driver can suffer with fatigue even without driving due to external personal and/or vocational circumstances, thereby they are unfit to drive even before driving.

Fatigue could be identified if a driver shows any of the following tell-tale signs: Mood changes, communication difficulties, difficulty concentrating, easily distracted, reduced attention, decreased vigilance, difficulty processing information, reduced short-term memory, slowed performance, increased errors, reduced physical strength, ‘Tunnel vision’ or microsleeps.

The Benefits of a Fleet Driving Safety Program

Fleet operators need to implement robust measures to identify, educate and support their drivers. There are numerous processes and procedures that they can implement to manage driver fatigue effectively to counteract the aforementioned issues. These measures should be detailed in a specific Managing Driver Fatigue policy.

man holding steering wheel

More importantly, employers and employees need to have better engagement and channels of communication with self-reporting being encouraged. It is vitally important to realise that everyone is different and react in different ways, so do not ignore or dismiss what a driver says as just moaning about the job.

Therefore, make sure that all employees are made aware that it is good to talk about fatigue but it is more important that employers listen and act upon what their drivers tell them. Having a grey fleet driving policy is also essential, if you want to protect your drivers and the public. Failure to listen and act now could be catastrophic for the fleet operator, the driver, their family and other roads users and their families.

Examples of The Consequences of Not Having a Fleet Driving Policy

Here is a consequence of not having a robust driver fatigue policy and not enrolling your fleet drivers on a fleet driving safety program.

A rail contractor Renown Consultants Ltd have been found guilty of failing to adhere to its duty under section 2 and 3 of the health and safety at work act 1974.

The driver Zac Payne 20 years old, fell asleep at the wheel on his way home from work and crashed into a parked van at around 5:30am on 19th June 2013, this after he left his home 25 hours earlier at 4:30am the previous morning.

Two things about having a fleet driving safety program:

1 – Their insurance policy was that no one under the age of 25 should drive vehicles on their policy. He was only 20.

2 – Driver fatigue policy. He left home at 4.30am and was traveling home at 5.30am the morning after.

Nobody checked to see if he was fatigued or even in a fit and proper state to work, who should still be working 26 hours after they started their shift.

So, what are you going to do about driver fatigue?

What changes can you now do to make a difference to all that driver for your company?

Get in touch to arrange a call about developing a fleet driving safety program in the North West of England.


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