Managing Driver Fatigue: How Can You Keep Your Employees Safe?
This is in large parts because of the amount of time that commercial drivers, especially fleet drivers, spend on the road. Working long hours without sleep, unconventional work patterns and schedules, and frequent night driving, are all reasons why commercial drivers are far more likely to experience tiredness whilst out on the road.
Symptoms include being unable to concentrate, feeling drowsy or tired, daydreaming, poor judgement or zoning out for worrying periods of time.
The Dangers of Driver Fatigue
As we said above, driving whilst tired can have some serious consequences for both the driver and other people on the road. It impairs mental processing, as well the ability to both react and make clear decisions. This means that everything you do whilst driving, such as turning the wheel or hitting the brakes, is likely to happen at a reduced speed compared to what is necessary.
This can lead the drivers swaying into different lanes and crashing into other drivers or nearby objects.
The Role of the Manager
This is why it’s become essential for fleet managers to take control of the situation. They need to have a fatigue management plan in hand, so that they can avoid their drivers seriously injuring themselves or anyone else.
It’s their responsibility, under the health and safety law, to assess and manage the risk of fatigue in employees who spend significant time on the road. This involves consulting with the drivers on health and safety risks involved with driving, specifically related to the subject of driver fatigue.
So What Can be Done?
So this leads us to wondering what exactly a fleet manager can do to prevent employees from suffering from fatigue when out driving. Whilst it’s going to rely on assessing the behaviour of your employees to check for any signs of fatigue, there are certain things that you can have an influence on.
Fatigue training is something that all fleet managers should make sure that every single one of their employees has completed. This includes training drivers on the risks of driving whilst tired, why they shouldn’t do it and what to do if they feel like they are too tired to complete a shift. There should also be a policy in place that everyone must follow; this will be aimed at minimising the risk of fatigue amongst your drivers.
This should be where you insist on your drivers getting enough sleep. Although you can’t physically force anyone into sleeping, it’s important to let them know that the recommended amount of sleep is at least 7 hours.
When writing up the rota for the week or month, it’s important that you take certain things into consideration. Work patterns should allow for at least seven consecutive hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. When a shift involves a big change, such as swapping from day to night shifts, it’s important that you allow the time for your driver to get used to the change.
It’s also a good idea to have planned out stop areas for drivers who may experience fatigue whilst already on the road. It will give them somewhere safe to stop to get some rest before carrying on.
When it comes to your employee’s shifts falling during the night, there are certain things you can do to make sure that the drive goes smoothly. It’s important to check if your driver looks and appears rested before starting the shift. You should also only choose drivers who have had training and don’t mind driving during the night. It’s also important that they are made aware of the right to take refresher breaks during the long shift.
As a fleet manager, you have a duty of care to make sure that your drivers are adhering to strict health and safety laws. Their safety is your responsibility, so it’s definitely worth taking time out to complete all the necessary training.
As well as employee safety, the efficiency of your business is also one of your main responsibilities. To find out how we can help you improve fuel management within your company, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Just give us a call on 01254 291391 and we’ll be happy to help.