October is Transport Month in South Africa. CAIA through Responsible Care has emphasised the importance of Transport Month and is supporting this month by creating awareness of critical attributes that will ensure safe transportation. These include addressing driver fatigue, heavy duty vehicle’s visibility, load securing of goods during transportation as well as employer and employee responsibility on the roads.
Many people do not realise the danger of driving while fatigued. When commercial drivers become fatigued from excessive driving hours with poor or little sleep they substantially increase the risk of accidents that result in death or serious injuries. Fatigued drivers in all vehicle types contribute to thousands of accidents on South Africa’s roads each year.
The early hours of the morning and the middle of the afternoon are peak times for fatigue accidents. Numerous studies have found that driver’s attention span begins to lapse increasingly after about four hours of continuous driving and declines very sharply after eight hours. According to the Human Science Research Council, commercial and public road transport drivers in African countries often work long hours and go to work fatigued. Truck drivers in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands work on average 16 hours a day. Falling asleep at the wheel has been implicated in 24% of heavy-vehicle road accidents in South Africa. 58% of male truck drivers drive at least 10.5 hours per day and 58% work more than 70 hours a week.
This risk of driver fatigue can be reduced by cooperation between management and employees. It is both the responsibility of managers and employees to ensure that there is monitoring and control of driving hours, overnight stopping areas and planning of shifts and deliveries so drivers can adequately alternate their driving and rest periods, as well as healthier eating habits and driver wellness. Driver wellness contributes to the prevention of road accidents, it is therefore imperative that long distance truck drivers are in good health to ensure the safety of other road users as well as their own, particularly when the drivers are transporting hazardous goods. Ailments such as diabetes are known to cause fatigue, in this case managers should be aware of such ailments that might affect safe driving by employees.
“Operational management generally has access to tracking and monitoring systems that can assist in aspects of the driving hours and stopping locations. Many of the professional transporters already practice these important disciplines, but there is concern that some operators do not practice the same controls. Understanding causes and signs of fatigue and the control strategies needed, will reduce the risks of crashes as a result of fatigue,” says Richard Durrant, CAIA consultant.
- Energy Drinks, Driver Alertness/ Tiredness and Safe Driving
- Study on Energy Drinks and Driver Tiredness
- Driver Fatigue and Road Safety
- Road Safety & Health – Page on Fatigue
- Driver Tiredness
- Facts about drowsy driving internationally
- Sleep Apnoea and Road Safety