Driver fatigue could be costing your company higher Commercial Truck Insurance costs and so much more. Why? Because fatigued drivers mean more accidents (see below), and the average cost of a large truck crash with a fatality is $3.6 million, and a crash with injuries is $200,000, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
So, if you want to lower Truck Insurance and other administrative costs, retain good drivers, and make our roads safer for everyone, you need to address the issue of fatigue with your drivers.
What is Fatigue?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), “Fatigue describes the feelings of tiredness, sleepiness, reduced energy, and increased effort needed to perform tasks at a desired level.”
“In addition to the dangers of falling asleep behind the wheel, drowsiness has serious effects on a driver’s attention, judgment, decision-making, coordination, vigilance, and reaction time,” according to the Sleep Foundation. “Drowsy drivers may find themselves weaving back and forth between lanes. They may have trouble maintaining the right speed and keeping an appropriate distance from other vehicles and may be unable to react in time to avoid an obstacle. A significant proportion of drowsy driving accidents involve a single driver driving off the road or into another lane at high speed.”
Statistics on Driver Fatigue
If you don’t believe driver fatigue is an issue, consider the following statistics:
- According to the Truck Safety Coalition, 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving, and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.
- According to Fatigue Science, the principal cause of 13-40% of trucking accidents is fatigue.
- “In the United States alone each year, there are approximately 100,000 fatigue-related motoring accidents per year, resulting in 71,000 injuries and 800 tragic, largely preventable deaths,” Fatigue Science states.
- Fatigue Science states, “The total cost of trucking accidents involving driver fatigue is approximately $20 billion per year. This includes costs such as medical expenses, property damage, and lost productivity.”
Causes of Driver Fatigue
Time of Day – According to the NSC, “People are physiologically programmed to sleep at night and be awake and active during the day.” Therefore, it’s no surprise that drowsy driving crashes typically occur at night or early morning.
Driving Long Hours – Our ability to focus on a task is limited. Driving for long periods can cause fatigue and affect performance.
Sleep Deprivation – Experts recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Not getting enough sleep can cause a lack of alertness, excessive daytime sleepiness, impaired memory, and more.
Sleep Disorders – The Sleep Foundation reports “50 million to 70 million people have ongoing sleep disorders. The most common among them are insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.” Sleep disorders cause daytime impairment in functioning and more.
Medications – Many medications - such as antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure, and anti-anxiety medications - can make you drowsy and impair your ability to drive safely.
Lifestyle Factors – Certain lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, etc., can contribute to fatigue.
Medical Conditions –Lyme disease, HIV, heart disease, emphysema, depression, MS, Type 2 diabetes, and more can contribute to fatigue.
Tips to Minimize Driver Fatigue
- Get enough sleep
- Get screened for sleeping disorders
- Try not to drive for more than eight to ten hours a day
- Take regular breaks every two hours
- Eat healthy and avoid heavy meals and fatty foods that can make you feel drowsy
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid alcohol and medications that make you drowsy
- Avoid driving between 12 and 6 am and between 2 and 4 pm if possible
- Maintain good posture
- Stay hydrated
- Take a nap if possible. Even ten minutes can make a difference.
- Recognize the signs of fatigue – headache, blurred vision, frequent yawning, etc.
- Don’t rely on “tricks,” such as turning on loud music, smoking, or opening the windows, which may give you a temporary boost but won’t fight fatigue in the long run.
Lower Commercial Truck Insurance Costs
Understanding and minimizing the risk of driver fatigue will help reduce the risk of accidents and help lower Commercial Truck Insurance and other costs. Another way to lower Commercial Truck Insurance Costs is to work with one of the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group. We compare rates among competing insurance providers to get you the right policy at the best price.
Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.