By Jim Park
While fleets and truck drivers try to stay compliant are they actually doing anything to address driver fatigue? Photo: iStockphoto.com/shotbydave
While fatigue and hours of service are frequently used in the same sentence, there’s often just a very tenuous connection between the two. Drivers and fleets work hard to comply with the rules, but are they actually doing anything to address driver fatigue? It’s being tired that puts truck drivers at risk, not running 10 minutes past the deadline for their 30-minute break.
“You’re not going to turn into a pumpkin as the eighth hour ticks over,” says Ron Knipling, noted fatigue and truck safety researcher and author of the truck-safety textbook, Safety for the Long Haul. “The way to approach fatigue management is in terms of health, diet, exercise, lifestyle and conscientious self-management; not externally imposed rules.”
One problem fleets and drivers face with fatigue is that compliance with the hours of service rules is not optional — but fatigue management education is. So money, effort, and time for proper fatigue management education for drivers may take a back seat to compliance training — how to manage hours, how to work the electronic logging device, how to cope with the parking shortage. That can leave drivers in the dark on how to manage the real problem: fatigue.
Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows that over 30% of American workers aged 30-64 are short of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults sleep seven to nine hours per day, but a recent survey found that 30% of civilian-employed adults (approximately 40.6 million workers) reported average sleep duration of six hours or less per day. It’s not known precisely where the truck driver population sits in terms actual hours of sleep per day, but it’s probably statistically similar,