Do you have employees who drive as part of their normal job function? It might be short distances or longer distances, but all drivers are susceptible to fatigued or drowsy driving.

Your employees may not realize how sleepy or tired they are when they get behind the wheel. The same is true of the body. Employees should know that the brain can force the body to sleep not knowing you are behind the wheel.

  • About 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers.
  • Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash.

Fatigued or drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence.

What can cause fatigued driving?

  • Time of day. The body’s natural clock typically tells you at night that it’s time to sleep.
  • Monotony or driving for extended periods with little change in your routine.
  • Length of time awake. The more hours awake, the more likely you are to be fatigued.
  • Medications and/or health conditions can interfere with your alertness and increase the risk of fatigued driving.

Warning signs of Fatigue:

  • Frequent yawning
  • Heavy eyelids, unable to keep your eyes open, frequent blinking
  • Difficulty focusing on the road
  • Forgetting the last few miles driven
  • Missed exits or other traffic signs
  • Feeling restless or irritable

What can you do to prevent fatigued driving?

  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. Stay well-rested and alert by getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day in a dark, quiet and comfortable space.
  • Tell friends and family you need to get enough sleep before you start a work shift.
  • Make sure you follow your company’s policies about fatigue management, planning travel and hours-of-service requirements.
  • Pay attention to medication warning labels. Don’t drive after taking medications that may make you drowsy.
  • Be sure you know the signs of drowsiness. Don’t rely on “alertness” tricks to keep you awake. Rolling down the window or turning up the radio will not keep you awake.
  • Don’t fall prey to myths. Caffeine does not make up for the lack of sleep.
  • Avoid sugar-rich and low-fiber carbohydrate foods such as cookies, sweetened drinks, and pasta.
  • When you feel tired, pull over and take a nap for 15 to 30 minutes before continuing on.

Know that there is no substitute for sleep.

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