Asleep at the Wheel! Reducing Driver Fatigue

A major category (often the top category) of incidents in many organizations is preventable vehicle accidents, or PVAs.  And a large percentage of these are due to lapses in alertness caused by fatigue and drowsiness while driving that leads to falling asleep at the wheel.  But according to Sam Fleishman, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), fatigue is tougher to detect than you might think:  “Fatigue and exhaustion can impair your performance even if you do not feel sleepy.  As you become more fatigued, it becomes more difficult to pay attention and react quickly while driving.”

The quote by Fleishman appears in a fairly recent article by Sandy Smith on the EHS Today website titled “Strategies for Combating Drowsy Driving.”  In addition to providing a few practical tips for preventing the effects of fatigue while driving, Smith points us to a free online presentation by the AASM to educate drivers on the impact of fatigue.

Other helpful references on this topic include a 10-minute screening test, a study on the impact of inadequate sleep, the impact of time changes on driving, and the exhaustive study by the National Institutes of Health, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA).

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Eric Svendsen

Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.

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  1. […] wheel. Over 5,000 people are killed in accidents involving commercial trucks each year. A driver asleep at the wheel has been implicated in many of […]

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