How to beat driver fatigue

As a fleet manager, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your vehicles and drivers at all times.

If your business requires your staff to be on the roads for long periods, driver fatigue could be a potential safety hazard, putting your drivers and other motorists at risk.

The statistics are grim - approximately one in three road accidents in Australia are caused by "tiredness, sleepiness or fatigue", according to the Thoracic and Sleep Group Queensland.

There are some simple measures you can encourage your staff to take to manage this preventable hazard.

These involve firstly identifying the symptoms and then taking appropriate action.

The symptoms

Many people are aware of when they're sleepy, but will choose to ignore it when they’re in a hurry on the roads.

If you find that you are constantly drifting between lanes or over the centre line, blinking or yawning, being distracted by random thoughts or unable to maintain a consistent speed, it is time to hit the brakes and pull over.

What to do

Many drivers may feel sleepy at the wheel but are unwilling to admit it, usually because they want to get to their destination on time.

However, while a short break might delay their arrival, it can potentially save lives.

The safest and most practical course of action is to pull over to a safe spot and have a quick nap - even 20 or 30 minutes can make a huge difference, so set the alarm on your phone accordingly.

The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure of South Australia says that your drivers can combat fatigue even before they get behind the wheel. Eating a balanced meal and avoiding fatty foods, alcohol and medications will help keep them sharp and alert.

Your fleet management program can even assist in keeping your drivers safe - Smartfleet's fleet management software includes Vehicle Utilisation Reports that monitor each vehicle's movements in real time, so you can identify any drivers you feel have been driving for too long.