How fleet managers can confront fatigued and drowsy driving

Have you ever driven while drowsy? Often it is simply a means to get home, but in many occupations it's a risk that needn't be taken.

The facts tell a grim tale, and one that fleet managers should be aware of to protect their company, reputation and employees.

What are the dangers?

Around six out of every ten adults have driven while feeling drowsy, according to US research by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

Driving while tired or fatigued is one of the most common causes of accidents on the roads. We all know the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol, yet drowsy driving is not confronted in the same way.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation (SHF), driving after 17 hours of being awake is the equivalent of taking to the road with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05. To the average 30 year old man, that is like taking to the road after around 3 cans of medium-strength beer.

The statistics appear to be geared against business driving purposes, too, with 82 per cent of drowsy driving accidents occurring when there was just one person in the car, and long shifts being a particular catalyst for on-road disaster.

Employees on shift work have to be particularly managed, with as many as 95 per cent of workers reportedly having an accident or a near miss after working for 12 hours, according to an SHF study.

Who is most susceptible?

Men and 18-29 year-olds are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel, according to NSF research.

More than half (56 per cent) of men admitted to driving while fatigued or drowsy, compared just under half of women (45 per cent). What's more, men are almost twice as likely (22 per cent) to fall asleep at the wheel than women (12 per cent).

What can be done?

To anyone managing a business fleet, countering fatigued driving will be high on their priority list.

Caffeine only provides a short-term solution, and due to individual responses it should never be the relied upon too heavily.

Creating a driver schedule that promotes regular breaks can greatly reduce the chances of an accident. According to SHF, a 15 minute nap can lower the risk of a fatigued driving incident dramatically, so adding some flexibility to a driver timetable is highly recommended.

Much of the care a fleet manager can give to their employees is in vehicle safety, and for this reason, having the right fleet management program can help.

Fleets can be improved through reporting software or streamlined through managed services.

A correct vehicle procurement program and the assistance of fleet maintenance and servicing will help ensure health and safety standards are being met, while accident management services protect both drivers and businesses in case fatigue does strike.