Topic of the Month – Managing Driver Fatigue

It’s summer time – sunny days, quality time with friends and family, and summer vacations. However, for employees that drive in the course of their work, July and August also mean holiday traffic, delays due to road construction projects, disrupted schedules, and an increased likelihood that fatigue will figure in their day. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps employers, supervisor and drivers can take to minimize associated risks, and have a safe, productive summer.

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 Know your route, and have a back-up plan

The best way to minimize driving risks is to avoid driving. Often, a phone call, web meeting or video conference can efficiently accomplish the objectives of an in-person meeting. If an in-person meeting is necessary, consider using public transit. If driving is necessary, know the route in advance. Check traffic news on the radio to confirm the way is clear. Unexpected events occur; have an alternate route in mind.

The DriveBC Traveller Information System shows planned highway construction and maintenance projects (such as, paving and rock-scaling) plus the anticipated duration of delays, along with incidents and road conditions. Use that information to build necessary time into the travel plan, or adjust the route to avoid those locations.

 Routes and schedules that avoid high risk / high congestion situations

The stress of traffic snarls wears on every driver’s nerves and contributes to fatigue. Information is available to help limit exposure to those situations. For most drivers, Friday afternoon traffic always seems heaviest, most frustrating and most tiring. ICBC maps show high crash frequency intersections. In BC’s southern interior, crash frequency spikes between 9:00 a.m. and noon on summer Fridays. Supervisors can help drivers manage fatigue by talking with them to understand their high stress situations, and working together to implement beneficial route and schedule adjustments.

 Keep your cool

Few things drain a driver’s energy like crawling along in traffic on a hot August afternoon. A flat tire, over-heated engine or broken air conditioner will only make that worse. Daily pre-trip inspections, scheduled maintenance and prompt repairs have a key role to play in efficient fleet operations, and helping your drivers maintain a cool attitude.

Hot weather contributes to uncomfortable, over-heated and exhausted drivers. Instead, encourage alert and responsive drivers with an environment that matches their needs. Train them to properly adjust their seating position and mirrors. Consider adding seat cushions that provide back support plus effective ventilation and comfort. Drivers need suitable footwear to operate a vehicle, but that doesn’t have to be the same protective footwear they wear at the job site.

Workers and employers need to consider the effects of fatigue as a potential source of impairment. Drivers need to be well-rested, take breaks to get fresh air, stretch their limbs and re-hydrate at least every two hours. Build breaks into schedules, and instruct your drivers to use them.

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For more about driver fatigue in the workplace, and what employers and drivers can to do manage it, check out the new information and tools on our Resources page.

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Topic of the Month – Managing Driver Fatigue