Digging into driver fatigue data to ensure fleet safety
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Digging into driver fatigue data to ensure fleet safety

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Drowsiness and driving is a dangerous combination and while most drivers are aware of the consequences of driving while intoxicated, many don’t realize that driving while fatigued can be just as fatal. Not to be confused with sleepiness, fatigue can occur at all hours of the day and can be identified by symptoms such as loss of short-term memory, heavy eyelids, headaches, uncontrolled lane departures, inconsistent vehicle speeds, misjudgment of traffic situations, and at the extreme the appearance of illusions. All of these symptoms can be present without sleepiness. For example, you can be fatigued but unable to fall asleep.

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Most fleets tell drivers to, “pull over when you’re tired,” but to a severely sleep deprived and fatigued driver this is a pointless exercise, as the driver is beyond being able to make a rational risk-based decision.

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To help drivers better manage their sleep, fleets are increasingly turning to electronic logging technologies and predictive analytics to monitor for driver safety. Dayton Freight Lines Inc., a private, less-than truckload freight carrier based in Dayton, Ohio, has 45 service centers in the Midwest and offers shippers one or two day service to thousands of points throughout 11 states. With 32% of the fleet consisting of line-haul drivers, Dayton Freight’s drivers were at a high risk for fatigue-related incidents, typically working throughout the night, sleeping during the day, and operating day-cab tractors without sleepers. Although fatigue-related incidents were few and far between, Dayton Freight recognized the serious safety risks its drivers were exposed to and adopted Omnitracs Analytics’ Sleep Management Program, which predicts sleep scenarios using Omnitracs’ hours-of-service onboard application.

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Utilizing Omnitracs Analytics’ predictive modeling and Dayton Freight’s electronic hours-of-service log data, the fleet company was armed with the information and technology needed to predict potential fatigue-related incidents. Through this stream of information, the fleet can quickly identify risk and accident severity probability, and determine which drivers need more rest and time off the road. The same data can be utilized to strategically schedule drivers in order to run a productive and safe operation with the lowest levels of fatigue risk.

Understanding that driver fatigue is a two pronged approached, Omnitracs Analytics held a series of on-site educational workshops for Dayton Freight drivers and managers, sharing tips for proper sleep techniques and warning symptoms of fatigue. Out of the 50% of line-haul drivers that participated in the driver education training, 94% of Dayton Freight’s drivers reported increased alertness behind the wheel, improvement in their overall lifestyle, and enhanced quality and length of sleep. Since implementing Omnitracs Analytics, the company has not had any major accidents that can be attributed to driver fatigue.

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Despite the shocking stats, driver fatigue is a condition that can be managed and avoided if the correct actions, education and technologies are implemented. Simply abiding by HOS mandates is not enough; fleet companies must invest in proper sleep education and predictive technologies in order to combat driver fatigue head on.

Editor’s note: This article was provided by Dean Croke, vice president of Omnitracs Analytics, a business unit of Omnitracs LLC.

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