Driver Fatigue and Accident Prevention – The Role of Electronic Logging Devices

Commercial motor carriers use ELDs to monitor drive time and hours of service (HOS) compliance. But the devices also record a wide range of informative data, making them an integral cog in fleet management and a key to efficiency, sustainability, and safety.

ELDs eliminate paper logbooks, improve vehicle maintenance and route planning, and help prevent costly federal audits. Read on to discover why implementing an ELD is a win-win for trucking companies, drivers, and the environment.

Stress

Stress can cause driver fatigue, making concentrating harder and slowing reaction times. Irregular sleep patterns can also lead to drowsiness behind the wheel, such as when drivers switch between day and night shifts without enough time off for their bodies to adjust.

Adding in-vehicle monitoring technologies to detect and alert drivers to signs of fatigue can help reduce rear-end truck collision risks. Some of these technologies include physiological condition monitoring (e.g., heart rate) and sleep apnea screening.

Choosing the right electronic logging devices system for your fleet prevents driver fatigue and improves safety. A good ELD should be FMCSA-approved, with built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes that record hard braking and turns and engine fault reporting, which helps with proactive maintenance. 

Fatigue

Everyone feels tired at one time or another, but being drowsy behind the wheel can be much more dangerous than just feeling a little sleepy. Driving while fatigued can cause people to miss important information, slow their reaction times, and become more susceptible to making mistakes.

Fatigue can cause drivers to lose focus and follow other vehicles too closely. Those who drive for a living – truck drivers, nurses, and security guards – are at a higher risk of fatigue-related crashes. These people are often required to work at night and in shifts inconsistent with their natural body clock.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of fatigue while driving, including getting enough rest and a regular sleep schedule. Additionally, technology can monitor driver fatigue by providing drowsiness warnings and alerts that can help drivers stay on the right side of the law.

Sleep

It is essential to get enough sleep, as a lack of sleep can cause drowsiness, leading to road accidents. Driving while tired increases the risk of accidents, especially on motorways and dual carriageways, where drivers often drift out of their lane or collide with other vehicles. These crashes can be fatal and often involve high-speed impact incidents.

Research has shown that driver fatigue decreases vigilance, alertness, and concentration so that rule-based cognitive functions such as driving become impaired. It can also reduce the speed at which information is processed.

Several studies have examined the relationship between drowsiness and performance measures such as standard deviation of lateral position or lane crossing. However, the quality of these studies could be better. It is due to the wide variety of study designs (randomized control trial, longitudinal, quasi-experimental, and other), sleep deprivation regimes, definition and measurement of driving outcomes, driving settings, time-of-day of drives, and controlling for confounding factors.

Alcohol

In addition to being influenced by fatigue, alcohol can have an additional impact on driving ability. It is especially true if the driver drinks in conjunction with sleep deprivation. Alcohol can also cause drowsiness by slowing down the brain’s reaction time.

The best way to prevent a crash caused by drowsy driving is for truckers and bus drivers to get a good night’s rest, not drink alcohol, and take medication that doesn’t interfere with driving (as advised by their doctors). However, this can be difficult, as tiredness is a subjective factor that can’t be measured.

Accident reports and witness testimony can provide clues about the driving conditions that could have contributed to the crash. Credit and debit card receipts may indicate what the driver ate or drank before the crash, and medical records may reveal medications that can make a person sleepy. Taking a nap on long trips and having someone drive with you is also recommended as a potential solution, although this may only be possible for some drivers.

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