Drowsy Driving: A Risk for Everyone

The following is an article I found on Automotive Fleet Magazine Oct 2012…  Driving drowsy is an issue we all face from time to time but is not talked about enough.  I recommend everyone speak to their children and drivers about this serious issue.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 100,000 people are killed or injured each year in crashes attributed to a driver asleep at the wheel or driving while severely drowsy. As it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness, this number may be even higher. Company drivers who must often drive more than the average person are at increased risk of crashes due to drowsiness.

A common characteristic of sleep-related crashes is the likelihood of them occurring at night or in mid-afternoon, when people have a natural propensity to be asleep, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). In addition, sleep-related crashes are more likely to involve a single vehicle running off the road. These crashes are more likely to result in serious injuries. Typically, there is no indication of braking or attempts to avoid the crash.

Sleep Deprivation Dangers

Americans are often reminded about the seriousness of drunk or distracted driving. Many do not know that tired drivers are just as dangerous. A 2008 AAA survey found that two out of every five drivers (41 percent) admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point.

Researchers found that extreme sleep deprivation can impair brain function as much as a 0.10 blood-alcohol level, equivalent to drunk driving. Fatigue impairs reaction time and attention, and it slows down the ability to process information in much the same manner as alcohol.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the human body often compensates for lack of sleep by taking “micro-sleeps.” These tiny naps last only a few seconds, but can have deadly results. A car traveling 55 mph can cross more than the length of a football field during a four-second nap.

Everyone is at Risk

Sleep is a natural function of the human body, and lack of sufficient sleep the night before or an accumulation of sleep debt can lead to serious consequences on the road. Fatigue affects reaction time, attention, and information processing — all critical aspects of safe driving.

Everyone is at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Certain characteristics or events greatly increase that risk, including age (younger drivers tend to be more susceptible to fall-asleep crashes), disrupted sleep patterns, untreated or unrecognized sleep disorders, sedating medications, and driving patterns and the number of miles/hours traveled per day.

It’s commonly believed that commercial truck drivers are the most at-risk group for falling asleep behind the wheel, but statistics show that all drivers should be concerned.

In a 2010 AAA study, tired drivers were responsible for one in six fatal crashes, or one in eight crashes that sent someone to the hospital.

A “Sleep in America” poll conducted in 2009 by the National Sleep Foundation found that more than half of adults had driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the prior year, while 1 percent admitted they had an accident or near-accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.

Warning Signs of Sleepiness

One of the most dangerous aspects of fall-asleep crashes is that many drivers don’t even realize they are drowsy. It is important to recognize the warning signs. A driver feeling tired should stop to rest or take a coffee break if their eyes begin to close or go out of focus, their head begins to bob, the desire to yawn becomes excessive, and/or thinking begins to wander or become disconnected, etc.

Some common ways to prevent drowsy driving include getting plenty of good, quality sleep; avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m.; take a break every two hours; and, if possible, drive with someone else who is awake in the passenger seat.

If signs of fatigue begin to show, drive to a well-lit area to take a short nap.

4 Ways to Create a More Efficient Fleet

Are you looking to run a more efficient fleet and reduce operating costs?  Who wouldn’t.  We all try and save money by doing all sorts of things to help reduce costs at home as well as our business.  Here are some pointers on how to run a more efficient fleet.

Create a Baseline

Before you can start to reduce fleet costs you need to determine what your baseline is. A baseline is where all comparisons are made.  How much are you spending on gas each day across all vehicles? How much are you spending on maintenance monthly? Some fleet managers keep detailed records, some just guess or don’t care. You can’t start improving until you start measuring. If you have a GPS tracking system, this kind of data is probably readily available, you just need to start using it.


Once you have your numbers, make sure every driver in your fleet knows what their numbers are. Make sure they know what’s being spent on fuel, maintenance, insurance, etc. Give them their numbers and work with them to identify areas to start reducing costs. Ask if they idle frequently and if they know how much fuel it wastes. Ask if they realize the impact of hard breaking, rapid acceleration, hard cornering, etc. on their vehicle’s maintenance. Are they reporting issues to your fleet mechanic or just living with them?  Create a safe driver program or rewards for keeping up with maintenance.

Personal Use

Your  drivers spend a lot of time in their vehicles. Over time they may begin to feel as if the vehicle is theirs. This can sometimes lead to misuse as employees begin using their vehicles inappropriately on weekends or after hours. Do you let these incidents go or do you restrict this kind of use? You may find that eliminating personal use not only reduces fuel use and wear and tear, but it also may save your reputation. A van with your name on it parked after hours at an inappropriate location could be damaging your reputation and losing you business.

Initiate Fuel Usage Policies – Introduce a Fuel Card and Usage Policy

Fleet fuel cards can provide discounts and rewards, reduce paperwork, save you from fraudulent spending, provide purchase controls, improve driver security and much more. If you’re already using fuel cards, make sure you’re getting the most out of them. That starts with developing and communicating a usage policy including:

  • Acceptable card uses
    Washer fluid
    Motor oil
    Wiper blades
  • Unacceptable card use
    Car washes
    Bulk fuel
    Non-company vehicles
  • Consequences for improper use
  • Card spending limits
  • Retention of receipts

It is important to have this communication between  drivers and owners/management to make sure everyone understands the rules and the consequences of not adhering to these rules.  Policies in place can also help to reduce insurance costs as well.  Many carriers have programs that can help you with the implementation of a safe driver program.

Robert Drucker is owner of Boston Global Tracking, providing GPS tracking solutions for fleets of all sizes.  He helps business owners keep track of what they value most.

Distracted Driving, Liability and What You Can Do About it.

Distracted driving has become one of the biggest issues in terms of liability for any business with a fleet on the road.  Businesses with 1 driver to thousands all need to understand the potential liabilities that distracted driving can  have on their business.

As evidence from a recent lawsuit against Coca Cola, even having a policy in place may not protect you. There is no magic wand that can prevent drivers from being distracted but there are many things you can do to protect yourself.

  1. Have a safe driving policy in effect which clearly states what distracted driving is and what is not allowed.
  2. Review this policy with all employees on a monthly basis.  Many insurance companies can assist you with material or help in setting this up.  In order to protect yourself you must show consistent updates and contacts with all employees: meetings, flyers, emails etc…
  3. Pay for hands free Bluetooth devices for all employees, if cell use is allowed.
  4. There are also devices that can block cell use while driving, but these can be expensive and may not work with personal phones.
  5. Keep contact with drivers to a minimum  by using a GPS tracking system.  This type of system can also identify speeding drivers as well as keeping office to driver contact to a minimum.
  6. Review phone records to see which drivers may be excessively texting or speaking on the phone.  Many cell carriers can provide this information if requested.

The benefits of all of this is employee protection, cost reduction, and liability insulation, all leading to reduced costs. We must all remember that Return on Investment is really the objective for any business, and our perspective demands that an effective distracted driving solution yields 500% or better ROI in the most conservative of scenarios.

Fleet Solutions Magazine. has  a great article on this subject.