Fatigued drivers reminded about road safety risk

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Driving for work is a high-risk activity, professionals who drive for work are 40% more likely than other drivers to be involved in a collision. It is estimated that driving for work accounts for involvement in 1 to 3 road collisions every year. Driving for work is one of the most dangerous things most employers ask staff to do, while drivers are responsible for how they drive, employers have duties in helping to make driving for work safer.

 

Concerns have been raised over safety risks associated with ‘fatigued’ delivery drivers ahead of the busy Christmas period, which started with ‘Black Friday’ (27th Nov), followed by Cyber Monday and with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions,  online shopping has never been availed as much before.

According to recent research, it takes around two hours of continuous driving before your concentration starts to deteriorate. Drivers become less aware of the road situation, and slower to react to hazards, which increases the risk of an accident. Stopping for breaks every two hours will help to keep drivers alert and aware on the road.

Exhausted delivery drivers could pose a road safety risk over the next few weeks as thousands of staff are urged to work long hours to cope with the rush of online orders around.

Research has shown that van driver are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel in the early morning (between 2am and 6am) and early afternoon (between 2pm and 4pm). Night driving in general can be tiring if you are not accustomed to it. Be aware of this and try and plan a rest stop during this time.

Delivery drivers are being pushed more than ever to get parcels out to homes as the Ireland shapes up for discount shopping online. Being fatigued significantly increases the risk of a crash. It makes these delivery drivers less aware of what is happening on the road and impairs their ability to respond quickly and safely if a dangerous situation arises. The safest driver is an alert one. Driving while tired reduces the ability to concentrate and be vigilant, which means it’s much harder to pay attention and make quick, responsible decisions.

Commenting on the ongoing issue, Noel Gibbons. Road safety Officer at Mayo County Council said: “This is an issue that has been highlighted in other countries over the past number of years, so we are appealing to fleet vehicle owners and managers who can minimise the risk of tiredness by planning driver shifts with more precision, taking into account how many hours sleep they will be getting between shifts and whether or not they will be tired when at the wheel.”

“The problem is not just confined to fleet drivers, with stores opening for all night shopping which increases the shopper’s risk of getting drowsy or even falling asleep at the wheel. As the day wears on and drivers become more fatigued, careless accidents are sure to happen,” he added.

“It’s important to schedule in time for regular breaks. Even if traffic or other factors delay the set schedule, it’s important that drivers take their breaks – safety first before deadlines. Pay attention, drive to the conditions and give plenty of space and consideration to other drivers sharing the road.”

 

Of the 915 road traffic fatalities in the State between 2008 and 2011, analysis suggested some 23 percent of them were work related.

The dangers of driving while tired:

  1. 4,000 people are killed per year throughout Europe because of driver tiredness
  2. Driver fatigue contributes to 1 in 5 deaths in Ireland
  3. Tiredness related collisions are 3 times more likely to result in death or serious injury
  4. Fatigue related injuries are more likely to occur between 2 and 6 am and 3 and 5 pm
  5. A motorist is 13 times more likely to have a tiredness related collision in the early morning than in the mid-morning or afternoon

Symptoms of driver fatigue

It is very difficult for drivers to accurately assess their own level of fatigue. The ability to self-assess becomes increasingly impaired as you get more fatigued, however the self-confidence in this ability remains. Nevertheless, there are some warning signs to look out for, including:

  1. Trouble focusing, or narrowing of attention
  2. Head nodding, or inability to keep the eyes open
  3. Not remembering the last few minutes
  4. Poor judgement, slower reaction time
  5. “Zoning out”
  6. Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  7. Constant yawning or rubbing your eyes
  8. Drifting in the lane

“Keep in mind that if experiencing any of these symptoms of driver fatigue, it is very likely that your driving performance is already impaired,” concluded Noel. More information on