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In the last article about fleet risk management, sleepiness was identified as the biggest risk to any fleet driver. Sleepiness is the most common cause of accidents among fleet drivers. Therefore, the importance of ensuring sleepiness is avoided is critical.
In addition to educating drivers about the risk of sleepiness while on the road, there are several ways in which a fleet manager can control the factors which contribute to driver sleepiness.
Route Optimisation with Route Planning Software
Fleet managers have the power to ensure that drivers have sufficient time to learn of any forecasted inclement or dangerous weather that affect traffic conditions. Simply by allowing more time to complete the route plan, fleet managers can ensure that any adverse conditions that can result in an increased risk of sleepiness are minimised.
Route plans can also be optimised to reduce the frequency of driving at night, which can also cause sleepiness. Where a plan does not allow for avoidance of night driving or other conditions, overnight stays can be permitted. As well, drivers can be asked to travel the night prior to a delivery or pick up, and then travel back to headquarters the next day. The same can be done with drivers working in remote locations.
Another way that fleet managers can prevent driver sleepiness is with a reduction in the distance that must be covered by one driver. Where this is in consideration, one solution can be to set in-house limits on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly driving distances.
Reasonable maximum mileages can be set for drivers. As well, drivers should not be expected to exceed these maximums in one day. To support this idea, a clear policy that allows for either shared driving or the allowance of overnight stays should be instituted.
Sleepiness can be exacerbated when drivers are expected to work night or rotating shifts. Those drivers working 12 hours tend to be far sleepier at the end of a shift than drivers who work 8 hour shifts. Therefore, a review of shift arrangements may be in order to ensure that the risks of fatigued driving aren’t increased.
Driver Hours Control
All driver classes should have in-house limits for unbroken driving hours. Daily, weekly and monthly limits should be set, as well as a working rule that no single driver should drive more than two hours continuously without a minimum break of 15 minutes. Breaks should be planned before the journey has begun. Tachometers and in-cab solutions can monitor adherence to these rules.
Safer Routes and Adverse Condition Avoidance
Regardless of the length or type of journey, each journey should be managed with delivery route planning. Road type, hazards, density of traffic and high-risk scenarios all should be considered by those whose responsibility it is to plan the journey, whether line manager or driver.
Driving in adverse weather conditions or at night should be strongly discouraged. High winds, flooding, fog and snow are particularly dangerous, as is any journey which puts the driver at risk of becoming stranded in a remote area.
In addition to the above, driver sleepiness requires continuous monitoring. This can be done during performance appraisals by managers. Managers can also monitor journey planning by sampling information to discern whether drivers are adhering to safe journey parameters. Drivers can be encouraged to drive safely by ensuring they are thanked for reporting their own sleepiness or sharing their experience with workmates for the benefit of all.
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