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Driver Fatigue - A Significant Road Safety Concern

According to the Canadian Council of Motor Vehicle Transportation, driver fatigue is the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents and contributes to at least 20% of fatal motor vehicle collisions. The Canadian Trucking Association reports that 30-40% of crashes in the heavy truck industry in North America are related to fatigue. A 2007 survey found that approximately 60% of Canadian drivers admitted to driving fatigued and 15% of respondents admitted that they had fallen asleep while driving.

As an employer of people who operate motor vehicles as part of their work duties, you are responsible for recognizing driver fatigue, and understanding how it can contribute to crashes. As an employee, you are responsible for showing up to work prepared to conduct your work without undue risk to yourself and to others around you.

What is Driver Fatigue?

  • Physical Fatigue – is the inability of muscle to maintain optimal physical performance, and is a result of physically demanding duties such as roofing, framing, heavy lifting or any other heavy labour duties. In terms of driving, physical fatigue translates to longer reaction times and inaccurate or incorrect responses.
  • Mental Fatigue – is the physiological state of condition that decreases mental performance capabilities and impairs cognitive abilities. Mental fatigue can reduce driver alertness, focus, attentiveness and decision-making abilities in ways that reduce their ability to perform key driving functions.

How Does Fatigue Impact a Driver?

  • Decreased awareness of the driving environment
  • Decreased ability to identify key information
  • Diminished judgement
  • Increased tendency to take risks
  • Impaired ability to respond to stimuli
  • Reduced problem solving abilities and manual dexterity
  • Reduced ability o judge distance, speed and time
  • Forgetting or ignoring normal checks or procedures
  • Loss of self-awareness

Primary Contributing Factors:

  • Acute and cumulative sleep loss
  • Continuous hours of wakefulness
  • Disruption of circadian rhythms
  • Sleep disorders
  • Medications
  • Stress and workload

Who’s At Risk?

ALL drivers are at risk. However, research has identified populations of drivers that are at greater risk for involvement in crashes due to driving while fatigued:

  • Night or rotating shift workers 
  • Commercial vehicle operators 
  • Drivers taking medications 
  • People with sleep disorders
  • Drivers under the influence of drugs & alcohol 

For more information on this topic, please visit Fatigue Basics, Impacts & Risk Groups, Tools & Resources for Employers/Employees

Tia Chisholm, HUB International TRANSPORTATION

HUB International TRANSPORTATION specialists are based in Vancouver. Our longstanding relationships with the best providers in the business allow us to deliver the solution that serve you best. With HUB, you can run your business knowing that you are headed in the right direction.

Original article source: Road Safety at Work Website

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