Monday, April 15, 2013 by Chris Hocking
Driving fatigue facts
We are all familiar with the national crackdown on drink driving, which sees harsh penalties for individuals caught over the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration [BAC] of .05. Multiple global research studies show that going without sleep for 17 hours has the same effect on driving as a BAC of .05. Both drink driving and fatigued driving has a significant and equal impact on performance.
Both states of impairment are equally disastrous when behind the wheel of a heavy machine, yet only one factor is governed by harsh legislation.
The question remains, shouldn't managing fatigue be just as critical as managing drink driving?
Driving fatigue prevention
Shift workers and any professional driver who is pushing their body to the limit needs to manage and schedule sleep.
It's as simple as aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every evening, with consistent wake up and bed times each day where possible.
Napping is one of the most effective ways to avoid fatigued driving. Remember; power naps of 15-20 minutes can partially overcome drowsiness, however don't exceed this duration unless there is time for a full sleep cycle, in which case a 1.5 to 2 hour nap is recommended.
An effective strategy is to take caffeine first, then nap for 15-20 minutes by which time the caffeine will have begun to work and always allow at least 15 minutes after waking up to fully regain alertness before starting to drive.
Interestingly, a recent three-year-long study conducted in Australia and involving more than 1000 drivers found that those who used caffeine to stay awake were 63 per cent less likely to crash than drivers who didn't use caffeine – however it was noted that it should be 'considered carefully in the context of a safe and healthy fatigue management
Remember, only nap when safe and legal!
What other strategies have worked for your team on the road or mine site? We'd be interested in your thoughts.