Fighting driver fatigue

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Driver fatigue is a factor in many motor vehicle accidents. A study of more than 200 accidents by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) concluded that as driving time increases, driver performance deteriorates, driver alertness decreases, and accident probability increases.

Extreme fatigue can affect a driver in many ways. It causes drowsiness, which can, at any moment, turn into total unconsciousness. Fatigue may also produce a mental state that will deceive drivers into believing that they are capable of driving safely. Fatigue also hampers the driver’s ability to correctly judge distances, speed, and driving conditions.

Fatigue can cause drivers to imagine conditions that do not exist. A reaction to an imaginary condition has caused many serious accidents. You should be aware of the signs of fatigue so you can take measures to counteract them. While alert, drivers usually sit relatively quiet in their seats. As drivers begin to tire, however, they often become restless, squirming, stretching, and rubbing their eyes. Fatigue can cause drivers to experience short lapses of attention, which can lead to serious accidents.

As drivers tire, they pay less attention to the instrument panel and side mirrors. The tired driver will stare fixedly ahead, as if in a trance. Driving patterns will change. There can be irregular or erratic speed changes, weaving back and forth, and finally, crossing the center line or driving off the road entirely. Fatigued drivers are hazards to themselves as well as everyone else on the road.

Some of the precautions a driver can take to combat fatigue are:
1.  Do not operate a vehicle beyond the FMCSA limitation on driving time.
2.  Make frequent rest stops. Any activity that substitutes a different physical act for the monotony of driving helps to refresh the driver.
3.  If available, drink coffee or water as they may sharpen your senses.
4.  Do not take drugs! Certain commonly-used drugs may increase alertness and efficiency for a short period but may often be followed by headaches, dizziness, agitation, irritability, decreased concentration, or hallucinations.

Fatigue can affect a driver very quickly. Due to this, drivers should take precautions to avoid becoming fatigued while behind the wheel. lf, for any reason, a driver cannot stay awake, the individual should pull far off the road and take an extended rest break. Pulling off the road and resting could help ensure that the driver makes it to the destination safely.

KEMI does not assume liability for the content of information contained herein. Safety and health remain your responsibility. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training, supervision or manufacturers’ instructions/recommendations. KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it. Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers or place of business.