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Safety While Driving Long Distances

You’d be surprised at the number of people who believe that driving long distances is not that dangerous a workload. When someone mentioned that since “even a 16 year old can drive – they just need to do it responsibly” it became apparent that this person either doesn’t take much notice of the road death tolls or that they hadn’t considered the role that fatigue and heavy workloads play in long distance driving accidents.

Travel Safely While Driving Long DistancesOne of the most serious threats in driving long distances is drowsy driving, where a driver is more tired than they may think they are, and simply drift off. Have you ever sat in front of the TV, feeling a little worn and the next thing your spouse or kids are nudging you to wake up and you’re surprised to find that you had unintentionally dozed off.

The other danger behind the wheel with fatigue is not being able to react as quickly as necessary in traffic conditions.

Before any driver is allowed to hit the road, they must be sure they know how to identify sleepy driving. Sometimes drivers think they are “a little tired, but I can drive through it”. 

Safety sessions about driving should include learning about:

The Signs of Fatigue – How to notice them and how important it is to respond to those signs. The strategies include getting to a safe location and resting until it is safe to drive again. It is important for drivers to understand it is all right to make a stop for safety purposes – no deadline is as important as a person’s life! And an employee that does not enforce this idea is in breach of Duty of Care for their workers.

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving – Drowsy Driving can be just as dangerous as drink driving. Drunk drivers can at least respond (albeit more slowly) to a traffic situation. Drowsy drivers who fall asleep at the wheel are unable to correct their driving, meaning accidents can happen at a higher speed and without any attempt to avoid them. So much time and money (rightly so) has been put into the campaigns to create a stigma against drunk drivers and their irresponsibility with theirs and other’s lives. The same stigma should be applied to any work schedule that forces a driver to continue to drive despite feeling drowsy or concerned for their safety.

Situations that Lead to Drowsy Driving – It is important that drivers get a good night’s sleep before they start driving. This means may mean they need to cut back on ‘off-duty’ activities that might cut into their sleep time.

Awareness of the Sleepy Hours – If drivers are travelling at night, or during hours where sleepiness is more likely, they need to be aware of this and realize they need to be more observant of their state of alertness during that time.

Employers can implement strategies to help their drivers, including:

Lessen the Drives – If possible, shorten the legs of your long distance drivers so they have a chance to take a break and rest more often.

Require Breaks – There should be set limits for how far a driver can go at one time, as well as per day, week and month. Driving limits are to help keep your people safe on the roads.

Network Driver’s Experiences – Drivers can share their experiences on the roads – such as what’s the best B&B to stay at, good rest stops (with good food and clean rest stop facilities), where road conditions are challenging and to take extra care, etc.

Keep in Contact with Drivers – Speaking regularly with your drivers during their shift (obviously hands free for the driver) is a way of checking up on how they’re feeling, and to find out if there is anything you need to know.

Safe driving and take care of yourselves!

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (1)

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  1. D drysdale says:

    As an urgent request for information -Would you please comment on safety of vehicles for long journeys such as benefits of a 4 wheel drive for greater visibility, reaction time and ability to endure more stability in high industrial heavy traffic conditions as compared to a smaller sedan and benifts in avoidance of an accidents and also if there is additional safety should an accident occur

    thank you D Drysdale

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