“Ahhhhh… damn, I am so sleepy! I hardly had any rest last night… And all of this built up exhaustion is just creeping up… I feel so dizzy… My head is heavy… my eyes are shutting… Is that a kangaroo in the distance? Oh… there is still time… But I can stay awake… I can make it! Should I pull over for a bit? No… I’ve got to be back at the depot in 5 hours… Just a few more kilometers and I will get an energy drink at the service station…”
What you have read now, were someone’s last thoughts before a tragic crash caused by fatigue.
If you think this is terrible, try adding the fact that fatal road crashes very often involve not just the truck driver, but also families with young kids, people returning from work, students heading to university, emergency services etc.
The Transport Accident Commission estimates that in Victoria alone, fatigue is at the root cause of 20% of all fatal road crashes. By June 2022 there were 1,179 reported truck-related deaths in Australia – and the question that we would like to ask is WHY?
Fatigue management practices have been around long enough now for these numbers to be, at the very least, much lower. With so many guidelines, supporting materials, tools and information provided, why are we still seeing such a sad trend in heavy transport fatalities?
Here are some common answers we received to date:
- Poor consideration of time and travel distance,
- Poor shift distribution and consideration of rest breaks,
- Poor consideration of non-driving work activities (such as clean-up, loading and unloading),
- Drivers instructed to follow unrealistic time-frames based on customer demands,
- Drivers facing poor treatment from upset customers,
- Drivers deal with social isolation and loneliness,
- Drivers use drugs and/or other mood altering substances,
- Drivers not maintaining a suitable life-style which includes rest and a good diet,
- Drivers don’t seek timely help with mental health issues,
- Equipment is not adequately maintained,
- Lack of Fatigue Management systems
- There is a lack of policies and/or enforcement strategies etc.
You probably already know that there are some very small and simple steps you can take to manage fatigue, such as – following the NHVR guidelines, allowing sufficient time for both rest and work activities, providing awareness training, installing fatigue cameras in your vehicles and promoting open communication channels on all topics – including mental health and healthy lifestyle choices. But did you know that eliminating stressors will automatically allow for more focused and less distracted driving?
Amongst a wide range of other things, eliminating stress factors includes:
- Ensuring that your vehicles and tools are in good working order.
- Providing information that is clear, relevant and easy to follow, and –
- Eliminating unnecessary work steps, such as keeping a written work diary (manually writing in an old-fashioned paper-log book and drawing lines with a ruler to indicate work and rest times) etc.
Let’s look at the last one…
Running paper-diaries is not effective… It’s time consuming, frustrating and unreliable. It belongs in the era of telephone books, printed maps, tv time-tables etc… These days you can reduce both fatigue and stress with electronic tools, that will not just keep your costs down and safety up – but will also make you the coolest and most innovative person in the transport industry… To learn about our Electronic Work Diary (EWD) ‘Q’ or about our IMS ‘KIM’ – both of which include the latest Chain of Responsibility (CoR) controls and are built to work with our ‘Kamera’ and GPS devices. Call us now on…
Give us a call on 1300 786 272 to see how our Fatigue Management can enhance safety within your business!