Understanding Driver Fatigue: What You Should Know

Drowsy drivers put themselves and other road users at risk. Understanding driver fatigue is critical in order to prevent accidents and improve road safety for everyone.

According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, fatigue is a factor in up to 21% of motor vehicle collisions, resulting in about 400 deaths and 2,100 serious injuries every year. Fatigue-related collisions rank third highest behind alcohol impaired collisions and collisions caused by aggressive speeding. These statistics illustrate the severity of this issue.

What Can You do to Prevent Driver Fatigue?

Black Freightliner SemitruckThe first step is to understand the risk factors and inform your family and friends.

While in the past, we may not have been as aware of driver fatigue and the risk factors, today, we have systems and programs in place in order to inform and educate drivers and their families.

July 10 marked an important milestone in Canadian trucking history: the launch of the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP). This new program aims to increase awareness about fatigue, its causes and how to effectively manage it through a series of 10 learning modules designed for fleet executives, safety managers, drivers and even their families.

The NAFMP 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 for drivers, drivers’ families, carrier executives and managers, shippers/receivers, and dispatchers

  • Information on sleep disorders screening and treatment

  • Driver and trip scheduling information

  • Information on Fatigue Management Technologies

Driving can be a grueling job. Often drivers are under as much pressure to be productive at home as they are while on the road. Because of this insight, we understand that no fatigue management program is complete without addressing the stress and pressures that drivers can face at home. Family members of drivers are also responsible for understanding driver fatigue.

As a driver, you should be aware of the following factors that affect your fatigue levels as well as the signs of fatigue.

Factors Affecting Fatigue

  • Quantity and quality of sleep

  • Physical fitness

  • Proper diet

  • Level of experience in meeting demands on the job

  • Comfort level of truck

  • Traffic

  • Time of day as it relates to the natural effects of your Circadian Rhythm

  • Personal motivation

  • Personal worries

Signs of Fatigue

  • Loss of concentration

  • Drowsiness

  • Yawning

  • Slow reactions

  • Sore or tired eyes

  • Boredom

  • Irritability

  • Missing road signs

  • Drifting out of your lane

  • Nodding off

Lastly, we will leave you with some final tips in order to avoid drowsy driving and stay safe on the road:

Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving

  • Drive only when rested

  • Keep your mind alert

  • Find a safe place to stop if you feel drowsy

  • Avoid sugary and fatty foods and drinks; instead, drink water and eat high-protein snacks

  • Drive defensively