It’s no secret that long haul truck drivers and bus drivers can suffer from fatigue and drowsy driving. Pressures from delivery schedules and route selection often cause truck drivers to push the limits of the law when trying to make a delivery on time. However, while these types of drivers are often the most thought of when it comes to dangerous, drowsy driving, other professions also are at risk for the dangers of drowsy driving.
According to Stephanie Pratt, the coordinator of the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, drowsy driving “is a risk that anybody can suffer. It is not necessarily a matter of your being sleep-deprived for years on end. If you just haven’t had enough sleep in the last 24 hours, you’re still going to be drowsy no matter how well you slept in the past two weeks.” According to Pratt, drowsy driving affects many non-professional drivers in oil and gas, home health care, sales, shift work and other areas.
According to the NTSB, driver fatigue may contribute to more than 100,000 car accidents a year and a report from the AAA foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that at least 6,000 drowsy-driving crashes a year result in at least on fatality.
According to Pratt, the oil and gas industry is vulnerable to drowsy driving because workers often work extended shifts and make long trips to and from worksites. NIOSH plans to survey gas and oil workers in the future about commuting behaviors.
In order to combat drowsy driving, employment experts recommend employers develop fatigue management policies. These types of polices could include
· Worker training about the risks of drowsy driving;
· Structured napping programs during parts of the work shift to combat fatigue; and
· Providing safer travel options for workers to remote worksites.
Drowsy driving is dangerous and is the cause of many car accidents and injuries every year. With drowsy driving becoming more and more of an issue, hopefully policies will be implemented to ensure the safety of both employees and those travelling on our roadways.