Managing driver fatigue

Managing driver fatigue

Extreme tiredness is something we have all experienced.  If you’ve ever stayed up late to watch a film or sporting event after a hard day at work, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the feeling of your eyelids feeling heavy and closing until you nod off for just a second, only to awake with a jerk.

This phenomenon is what Doctors call micro-sleep.  An involuntary, momentary, temporary period of unconsciousness lasting from a fraction of a second up to 5 seconds, ending in a sudden head jolt which rouses you.  It’s not a problem if you’re sitting on the couch, but falling asleep at the wheel of a truck can be fatal for the driver and anyone else unlucky enough to be close by.

Tiredness can be a matter of life or death - it’s a clearly identified problem for professionals in the trucking industry and research suggests it can be even more problematic for young or inexperienced drivers that don’t recognise the signs of tiredness.   If you’re planning to hire a truck for the first time or haven’t driven a large vehicle recently, it’s worth taking a few things into account.

Know your own limits – Rentco recommends that drivers stop every 2 hours to take a comfort break, stretch and get some fresh air.  If possible share the driving with a co-driver and try not to drive more than 8 to 10 hours every day.  Use your smart phone to remind you to take breaks.

Keep safety front and centre – at the first sign of tiredness pull over and stop. A loaded truck is a lethal weapon, and the reality is, if you have been awake for 15 hours or more, you need to sleep and recharge your batteries.  Research shows driving a hire truck after being awake for 17 hours is comparable with driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05.  This almost doubles the risk of accident.  Driving this tired seriously affects your reaction time, putting you and other road users at serious risk.

Avoid energy drinks – they contain high levels of sugar and caffeine and other stimulants which can dehydrate you and can cause both your heart rate and blood pressure to rise.  Once the effects start to wear off, it’s likely you’ll feel even more tired and low in energy.  Plain old H2O (water) is free and much better for your driving skills and keeping you alert.

Watch your speed – when you’ve had a long day and the destination is reasonably close, it’s easy to lose focus.  The first sign is realising that you’re speed has gradually increased.  You may only realise when the vehicle in front starts to brake or you change lanes or take a corner a bit too fast.  While it could be tempting to hurry, you’re putting yourself and other road users at risk.

Why choose Rentco? - Your safety is our priority, which is why our fleet of modern rental vehicles are maintained to the highest standards.  When you choose Rentco, you enjoy the benefit of reliable local service backed up with the strength of a national network.