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Driver fatigue happens when a driver loses attention on the road due to feeling drowsy from lack of sleep, long hours or work, stresses from the environment, and medical disorders such as sleep apnoea.

According to the Victoria Transport Accident Commission reports that on a 5-year average, around 30 people die each year while around 200 people suffer serious injuries from fatigue-related crashes.

Fatigued drivers are unsafe drivers. Studies have shown that driving when tired results in poor speed and steering control, increased lane drifting, late corrections, lower reaction time to road signals such as braking and traffic lights, and poor avoidance of road hazards.

In extreme cases, this can result in serious injuries and even death. Fatigue-related crashes can also result in financial burdens due to potential damages claims, reduced productivity due to vehicle repairs, and even legal liability especially if you’re operating a heavy fleet.

Managing Driving Fatigue in Fleets

As fleet operators and managers, we have a duty of care to ensure the safety and well-being of our drivers. Here are some fleet management strategies you can incorporate to manage the risks associated with fatigued driving:

  • Provide Driver Education and Support

Provide drivers and other members of your team with critical information about fatigued driving. This can include the issues surrounding fatigue, how it can affect road safety, and the steps they need to take to prevent road accidents. Training sessions and educational materials go a long way in keeping drivers informed and safe.

If a driver has health conditions that can cause driver fatigue, direct them to medical professionals who can help.

  • Keep Your Drivers Engaged

Open communication plays an important role in ensuring the safety of drivers on the road. Consult drivers about any sleep-related problems they might have.

Work with your team to create a work shift schedule that allows for proper rest and recovery in between jobs. When necessary, lighten the load of drivers who may be stressed or overstretched.

Create a buddy or backup system for drivers. This can help relieve pressure on drivers who may not be ready to drive due to ingoing sleep deprivation.

  • Incorporate Fatigue Management in Your Organisation’s Policies

 Australian law takes driver fatigue seriously. Fleet managers are responsible for incorporating fatigue management systems to keep drivers and other road users safe.

AfMA members with fleet of vehicles that are subject to Australian heavy vehicle safety laws can refer to the Manual of Fleet Management to learn more about Fatigue Management. Not a member yet? Join here.