Sunday, January 20, 2013

Distracted Driving and Driver Fatigue

All eyes on driver

As I reflect back on recent safety initiatives while also looking ahead, two topics stand out in my mind: distracted driving and fatigued driving.
Distracted driving has been a hot topic for several years. The issue hit its peak in the motorcoach industry when safety regulations related to distracting cell phone use by commercial drivers and carriers came into play in late 2010. Long before these regulations were enacted, however, most companies understood that distracted driving was a serious safety issue. As is typical, some carriers took steps to counteract it while others waited to be told what to do.
Has the danger associated with distracted driving gone away? No.
To the contrary, vehicle and personal mobile electronics continue to enhance the opportunities for distracted driving. While many newer cars now have Bluetooth phone systems to limit hand-held phone use, some newer cars are also their own mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. New research shows that surfing while driving (webbing) is on the rise. As carriers, however, we feel more comfortable that we’ve done what we can to control distracted driving by our drivers and for our customers, which is all we can ask for.
This brings us to another safety concern — fatigued driving. Fatigue is one of those moving targets difficult to pin down. A lot of questions that can be asked about the concept of fatigue come with, unfortunately, a lot of vague and uncertain answers.
Some of the questions I’ve heard from operators:  What defines fatigue?  When does it occur?  How will I know someone is fatigued?  How can I prevent fatigue?  Is fatigue the same as sleepiness?
We should probably already know the answer to these questions since we certainly understand that fatigued driving contributes to accidents. Part of the problem is it is tough to quantify exactly when fatigue was a causal factor in an accident, especially when not indicated by a driver.

            Published by Wyatt Olsen

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