Checklists to help counter fleet driver fatigue

Does your fatigue management program go beyond HOS compliance?

Have you ever nodded off or felt like you could fall asleep while at the wheel of your car? Maybe you gave yourself a scare, but nothing bad happened. You kept driving, waiting for your heart rate to recover.

If you think about how often fatigued driving events may happen to your drivers each day or night, this could leave you sleepless wondering, “What more could I do beyond hours-of-service (HOS) compliance?”

It takes a multi-faceted fatigue management program and everyone on your team to recognize their role.

Fatigue management is about a culture of safety. It encompasses all aspects of avoiding fatigued driving. You may be hesitant to make several changes at once because the business must still run efficiently, however, there are many preventive actions to consider.

The following checklist contains some initiatives that could be layered in to create a more holistic fatigue management program:

Driver sleep management and health

  • Use fatigue management training programs that involve employees and the driver’s family to support rest while home
  • Emphasize healthy habits at home and on the road:
    • Diet and exercise, as well as avoiding large meals before driving
    • Limited use of caffeine
    • Sleep management
  • rovide a sleep apnea screening program and financial support if treatment is needed
Operational practices for safe HOS
  • Create policies on and management of the safe use of HOS exceptions such as:
    • Personal conveyance: Limits on distance or time used each day
    • Split-sleeper: Limits to avoid driving between midnight and 5:00 am
    • 16-hour days: Limit driving beyond a 14-consecutive window
    • Complete exemptions from HOS (e.g., emergency declarations): Monitor fatigue while exempt
  • Monitor and account for all time worked and when released from second jobs
  • Create policies and procedures that support a driver’s authority to stop driving if fatigued:
    • Anti-harassment and coercion policy, including assigning realistic work
    • Audit of dispatch or driver management communication
  • Monitor HOS with real-time alerts
  • Use trip-planning training to target a safe place to park:
    • Act on feedback regarding routes where parking is scarce
    • Reduce excess detention times by using electronic logging device (ELD) data
Cab Equipment
  • Verify the ergonomics of the cab doesn’t contribute to fatigue
  • Provide tools for drivers to safely and efficiently handle freight

Key to remember: Compliance with HOS rules doesn’t always mean safe and rested. Nuclear verdicts against carriers have resulted in cases where the driver was 100 percent compliant with regulations, but was not safe to be behind the wheel.

About the author
Mark Schedler - Transportation Editor

Mark's primary areas of expertise include transportation operations and safety, driver retention, hours of service, and ELD requirements.

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