Combating driver fatigue with telematics
Get a better understanding of driver fatigue and how to use technology to manage it.
Many companies rely on their fleets for product deliveries, transporting goods between warehouses and getting to remote job sites. However, fleet drivers may often be made to endure long trips and inconsistent driving schedules to meet delivery standards. This means that many drivers could find themselves driving while dangerously fatigued.
The National Safety Council (NSC) found that driving after more than 20 hours without sleep is the same as driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% — the U.S. legal limit. Based on this fact alone, it’s more important than ever for fleet managers to monitor and combat dangerous driving habits like driving while fatigued.
What is driver fatigue?
To dive in further, driver fatigue is often seen as an underestimated danger of being on the road. Drivers often face long trips and inconsistent driving schedules, leading to situations where they potentially find themselves driving while tired and drowsy.
Technology can play a key role in reducing the number of fatigue-related collisions among fleet drivers. For example, vehicle features and ADAS solutions, including drowsiness and lane departure alerts are prime examples of technology that can detect common drowsy driving habits and notify drivers to stay in their lane or take a rest.
Common driver fatigue symptoms
Fleet and business safety managers can increase safety by encouraging their drivers to spot key driver fatigue symptoms and stay off the roads when they feel tired or drowsy. To help get a better idea of behaviors to look out for, here is a quick list of the signs of fatigued driving from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
- Being awake for a long period of time
- Lack of sufficient sleep over a several day period
- Long durations of inaction or monotonous work
- Sleep disorders
- Medications that include drowsiness as a side effect
As well, the following symptoms may also be noticeable in fatigued drivers:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Slow reaction times to changing road conditions, obstructions, traffic or even pedestrians
- Poor decision making
- Lane drifting
- Tunnel vision
- Microsleeps (brief moments of sleep lasting anywhere up to 30 seconds)
- Lack of memory about recently driven miles
Driver fatigue statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019 drowsy driving led to the deaths of nearly 700 individuals. In addition, survey data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also indicated that a staggering one in every 25 adults had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past month.
With that in mind, note that there is often difficulty in generating these estimations as it is hard to prove fatigue as the sole cause of collisions. Unlike a breathalyzer test, there are no tests that can be administered to prove impairment due to fatigue and police currently do not include a regulated fatigue assessment in investigation practices.
Driver fatigue also poses an increasing threat for companies who rely on their drivers to be safe and alert. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exhausted workers cost employers $1,200 to $3,100 per employee in lost production each year, while sleepy workers cost employers $136 billion per year in health-related lost productivity.
Driver fatigue management
It is the responsibility of both fleet organizations and their drivers to maintain the safety of their drivers and encourage best practices behind the wheel. This is why Geotab offers fleet dashboard camera integrations that offer added benefits for fleet management, including:
- Recording and saving collision footage and filing proper evidence if any collisions result in a lawsuit.
- Identifying impaired or distracted driving, not only in instances of fatigue, but also eating, drinking, smoking, or being on the phone.
- A live view of drivers’ routes that can be triggered by events like speeding or harsh braking, allowing for quicker reactions by fleet managers to potentially dangerous situations.
By installing dash cams, companies are prioritizing fleet and driver safety while gaining an extra layer of visibility into their on-road operations. Geotab offers a number of dash cam options, safety reports, and many other safety solutions in the Geotab Marketplace that can be integrated with the MyGeotab platform. This can make it easier to manage all fleet cameras from one cloud-based dashboard.
With the help of technology such as dash cams, Geotab Drive and ELD, there is hope that many fatigue-related incidents can be avoided. For fleet managers, setting up policies and adopting technology that works to prevent driver fatigue is a great place to start. Working with drivers to monitor their health and wellness is another way to help lower fatigue-related incidents, keeping them alert, responsive and safe.
Visit the Fleet Success Center in the Geotab Community to ask questions about this topic, post your own success tips or stories to help others.
Original blog post published on 11/17/2014.
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Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.
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