Being a truck driver is a difficult and grueling job, there is no doubt about it. Two of the biggest challenges truck drivers are facing these days are lack of quality sleep and distracted driving. What can drivers do to minimize these challenges, stay safe and keep their eyes open and on the road?
The September 2018 edition of Fleet Owner magazine contained an article outlining a study that had been done by Dupré Logistics of Lafayette, LA. The study discussed how drivers are most vulnerable to fatigue when they alter their normal shifts, impacting their sleeping and eating patterns. Of course, from time to time a change in shift will be necessary and is not completely inevitable. However, sticking to a consistent routine of sleeping and eating patterns as much as possible can greatly reduce the affects of fatigue.
Quality sleep is key, not just getting the mandated hours of sleep. Driver’s need to recognize that ‘being tired’ isn’t just ‘part of the job.’ Changing that mindset and making sleep a priority is vital. Managers and Fleet Owners should also work with drivers to recognize and reduce the risks.
Cell phone usage and device addiction is an epidemic in today’s society. These kinds of distractions, especially while driving, have proven to be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening. It is important to note that our lovely state of Minnesota will be enforcing the Hand’s Free Law, starting August 1st, 2019. That means NO cell phones in your hand while you’re driving. A description of the law and it’s restrictions can be found on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website. Some practical suggestions it offers include:
- Keeping your phone out of reach, in the glove compartment, back seat or trunk.
- Use voice commands or hands-free devices such as blue-tooth.
- Set your phone to Do-Not-Disturb.
Many trucking companies are also utilizing the SafeRide app. It automatically blocks cell phone usage when paired with a vehicle.
Remember, Hand’s Free doesn’t mean Distraction Free; each driver is responsible for maintaining a distraction free driving environment. Fleet Owners need to also make this a topic of consistent discussion with their drivers with the intent of creating a Safety Culture within the company.
Resources: September 2018 edition, Fleet Owner magazine, Technology on Your Side by Neil Abt; Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Hand’s Free Law 2019