Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is held every year during the first full week of November and serves as an important reminder that fatigue affects your ability to drive safely. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 21% of all fatal crashes are caused by a drowsy driver – that’s more than 6,400 fatal vehicle crashes a year. The goal of this annual campaign is to bring awareness to a growing issue and to reduce the number of drivers who operate while fatigued.
The Effects of Fatigue at Work
While lack of rest and poor-quality sleep are often causes of drowsy driving incidents, work-related fatigue is another common culprit, largely due to the demanding jobs and long, stressful workdays that so many workers face. The most at-risk industries include rotating and shift employees, first responders, commercial vehicle operators, and healthcare workers.
Drowsy drivers may experience any number of symptoms, including delayed reaction times, blurry or tunnel vision, drifting from lane to lane and nodding off at the wheel. Recent studies have even shown that a sleep-deprived person performs similarly to someone under the influence of alcohol.
Businesses in high-risk industries can take certain steps to help prevent drowsy driving incidents for their workers:
- Ensure sufficient staffing levels across operations and adhere to policies for maximum number of hours worked and consecutive shifts
- Provide worker training on sleep health and fatigue management
- Use a fatigue risk management system (FRMS) or install fleet telematics technology to monitor driver behaviors and promote alertness
- Allow for rest breaks and napping during extended work shifts
- Consider implementing wearables such as instrumented wristbands or glasses to help monitor and prevent driver fatigue
As part of this annual recognition, the National Safety Council and the National Sleep Foundation offer a variety of tools and resources to learn more about how to recognize and prevent fatigue, both in the workplace and on the road.