The silent killer: driver fatigue

Experiencing fatigue at work, home or the road can massively increase your chances of being in a fatal or serious accident. With the darker nights and colder weather upon us, you are more likely to feel tired when going about your daily routine.

Fatigue and road accidents

Falling asleep at the wheel is a more prevalent occurrence than most people realise. In 2018 a survey1 revealed of 20,000 motorists, one in eight admitted falling asleep while driving, while 37% said they had been so tired they were frightened they would drop off behind the wheel. Contrary to popular belief, common remedies for tiredness while driving such as winding the window down or turning the radio up will not improve alertness. If you feel the need to employ these tactics you are probably already too tired to drive safely.

In fact, driver fatigue causes thousands of road accidents each year; research2 shows that it may be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road accidents and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents.

Sleepiness also reduces reaction time (a critical element of safe driving). It also reduces vigilance, alertness and concentration so that the ability to perform attention-based activities like driving is impaired. The speed at which information is processed is also reduced by sleepiness and the quality of decision-making may also be affected.

Commonly, road accidents are more likely to occur between midnight and 6am, between 2-4pm (especially after a large meal or even just one alcoholic beverage), with driver fatigue setting in when driving home after working long hours and particularly post night-shift.

Fatigue and the workplace

A study by researchers at Loughborough University who surveyed 1,353 of London’s 25,000 bus drivers for Transport for London revealed that 21% of bus drivers in London had to fight sleepiness at least two or three times a week. The study also revealed that 35% of the respondents had a ‘close call’ on the roads due to tiredness in the past year and 5% had been in at least one accident because of fatigue.

Management of Occupational Road Risk (MORR)

RoSPA offers a Management of Occupational Road Risk (MORR™)  course which helps fleet managers  examine ways in which to apply risk assessment techniques and safety management models to the specifics of road-related risks (including signs of fatigue among their drivers).

On completion of (MORR™), delegates will be able to conduct risk assessments associated with occupational road risk, understand some of the measures appropriate to controlling the risks, and appreciate benefits associated with successfully managing occupational road risk.

For more information on our (MORR™) course visit our website, email or call us on +44 (0)121 248 2233. You can find further information about how fatigue effects driving downloading this RoSPA factsheet.

 Resources

  1. Sky News – Tiredness blamed for quarter of fatal road crashes
    https://bit.ly/35rupgY
  1. RoSPA – Driver fatigue
    https://bit.ly/347KB6C

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