Do you recognise drowsy driving?

The South African road accident statistics are horrific, and the demand on commercial transport to deliver goods on time, across the country and borders, is ever increasing. 

A recent study by the National Safety Council in the USA suggests that many drivers, even when they realise their drowsiness, will continue driving.

For the CEO of Masterdrive in South Africa, Eugene Herbert, this raises serious concerns. It means that fleet owners, in particular, cannot rely on drivers to act responsibly once they realise that they are tired. “Instead, it needs a strategy that combines raised awareness, company policy and dependence on the drivers. Together, this may bring about a more significant reduction in fatigued driving crashes,” says Herbert.

The study indicates drowsiness accounts for about 100 000 crashes, 71 000 injuries, and 1 550 fatalities.

Another study by the USA’s AAA Foundation says 75% of drivers are unable to recognise when they are very drowsy. Herbert elaborates, “The study, conducted on commercial drivers, reported that drivers reported low perceived levels of drowsiness when they were actually moderately to very drowsy. Drowsiness was determined by measurements that showed drivers’ eyes were closed for more than a quarter of one minute time intervals.

“The study further says that commercial drivers are more likely to underestimate their drowsiness level because they are on the road more often. This is particularly true for those that drive at night during the times when drowsiness is most likely, between 21:00 and 06:00. The most concerning fact revealed is that even drivers who noted they were very drowsy continued driving.”

Thus if 75% of your fleet is unable to accurately judge drowsiness, how will this affect its productivity? It is imperative that drivers learn how to judge fatigue levels correctly and stop to rest.

According to Herbert, this ability can be taught. This can be achieved by implementing a compulsory rest stop every two hours, limiting the hours a driver is on the road each day, making provision for healthy meals, hiring co-drivers to share driving duties where applicable, implementing policies that stop the use of drowsy inducing medications and, where possible, limiting night time driving.

“Teaching drivers to recognise the physical signs of drowsiness like daydreaming, loss of concentration, yawning, drifting across lanes, rubbing eyes, delayed reactions and regular variations in speed, is easy and achievable,” concluded Herbert.

Source: MotorPress


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