Tips on How to Deal With Driver Fatigue

From Idealease Safety Bulletin—April 26, 2019

Plenty of statistics exist to show that driver fatigue contributes to accidents when commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are involved. Among the informational nuggets from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA):

  • The Large Truck Crash Causation Study revealed that 13 percent of CMV drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of a crash
  • Driver alertness relates more to “time of day” than “time on task”
  • Being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent
  • A 2005 study suggested three out of every four CMV drivers report having experienced at least one type of driving error because of drowsiness

Take a Break
If drivers are feeling fatigued, §392.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations prohibits them from driving. The rules state that no driver can operate a CMV and motor carriers can’t allow a driver to go on a trip if fatigue impairs his or her ability so much that they are unsafe to drive. Carriers must know that law enforcement officers have the authority to determine if drivers are fatigued. Officers will place a driver out of service until they get enough rest if the officer feels the driver needs more rest to drive safely.

What can you do?
Motor carriers can’t dictate what drivers do during their spare time, but they can make driver fatigue a centerpiece of training programs. Carriers should:

  • Consistently train on compliance with Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle that includes adequate daily rest
  • Train drivers, dispatchers, and supervisors on the dangers of fatigued driving
  • Ensure routes are planned so they can be completed efficiently and within HOS rules
  • Allow plenty of off-duty time for drivers to get rest at home, and naps when needed during the workday
  • Set personal conveyance limits to discourage excessive commuting when off-duty
  • Ensure regular communication between drivers and dispatchers about fatigue levels and ensure drivers get support from dispatch when they report fatigue

Review “fitness for duty” before a driver starts a job and pull drivers who are too ill or fatigued to drive safely.