Driver Fatigue & the CVSA’s Plan to Combat it
It’s tempting to think that feeling “a little sleepy” is no big deal when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. After all, how bad can a little fatigue or sleep deprivation be?
Turns out, REAL bad.
In fact, according to the National Safety Council, over 100,000 police-reported crashes happen every year because of drowsy driving, resulting in 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries. And get this: Fatigued driving is likely underreported, which means all these numbers are most likely higher—way higher.
While driver fatigue can affect anyone, it’s considered an occupational hazard for those who rely on driving for a living. One study reported that “13 percent of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash.”
One of the main challenges with combatting driver fatigue among commercial drivers is making sure that everyone involved understands exactly what driver fatigue is, how to recognize the signs, and how to manage it safely and effectively. This brings us to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and its new approach to tackling all those things—and more.
Driver Fatigue Management: The CVSA’s New Approach
As its name implies, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is committed to promoting safety among commercial drivers, which is why it recently announced its adoption of the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP).
As the CVSA press release explains, the program “was developed by medical and sleep scientists from Canada and the United States through a multi-year, four-phase comprehensive process. The program aims to prevent driver fatigue and eliminate fatigue-related crashes.”
How the North American Fatigue Management Program Works
The program, which is 100% free and voluntary, tackles driver fatigue by . . .
- Promoting and increasing the availability of online programs and training for everyone, particularly among commercial drivers, their employers, and their families
- Fostering a culture where everyone truly celebrates and “walks the walk” when it comes to motor carrier safety. This includes creating an environment that destigmatizes the need to “take a break” and eliminates pressures to drive beyond a person’s limits.
- Identifying sleep disorders—along with proper treatments.
- Using proven driver fatigue monitoring technologies and management strategies (caffeine and energy drinks need not apply!)
The NAFMP website says that when the program is fully implemented, “it has the potential to reduce fatigue-related risks, crashes and near-crashes and improve driver alertness, health and wellness.”
Why Motor Carriers Should Care About Driver Fatigue Management—and Participate in the NAFMP
Creating safer roadways is something that benefits everyone, from individuals to businesses. But businesses can benefit in other ways:
- Avoid premium hikes. The National Safety Council reminds us that driver fatigue takes a toll on the economy and notes that “fatigue-related crashes resulting in injury or death cost society $109 billion annually, not including property damage.”
- Avoid fines related to DOT hours-of-service violations. Hours-of-service violations can cost a pretty penny. But the issue is much bigger than an occasional driver deciding to push past their limit every now and then. The issue is systemic and needs to be addressed by every part of the supply chain, including management, shippers and receivers, and drivers themselves. (As well as drivers’ families.)
- Attract better drivers. When you treat employees well, word gets around. A company that puts its people’s safety before profits is one that will be attractive to many drivers—a plus in a time when companies are struggling to keep good drivers behind the wheel.
- Retain quality drivers. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Keeping good drivers on staff has gotten more challenging, too. As this article notes, the trucking industry loses more drivers to retirement or turnover each year than it gains. Treating employees well will help foster loyalty.
Will You be Participating in the Driver Fatigue Management Program?
Are you or any of your employees currently enrolled in any of the NAFMP’s free training courses? We’d love to hear what you think of the training and any other experiences you’ve had. Share in the comments below.
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