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Fatigue Behind the Wheel is a Concern

We hear a lot about sleep and the benefits of sleep in job performance these days. Companies across a variety of sectors are providing employees with sleep pods, relaxation rooms, and “nap times” throughout the day to increase job performance. What happens, however, when sleep deprivation is caused by an underlying issue in a high-demand industry?


Trucking is integral to Canada’s economy as the transportation of goods across inter-provincial borders has driven imports/exports and business growth. With the steady increase in online shopping, trucking companies are busier than ever as they attempt to keep up with demand for faster and faster delivery times. An impending driver shortage is causing many to wonder where it’s future lies. Driver shortages and strict deadlines along with compensation based on the number of hours worked has also led to long-haul drivers spending the majority of their time on the road, making driver fatigue an issue. 


The Implications of Fatigue

Fatigue has been found to be a key reason for crashes and fatalities in Canada. In 2010 the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators cited statistics that almost twenty percent of fatal crashes were due to fatigue. Whether it’s long hours on the road, a general lack of sleep due to busy lifestyles, or an underlying health condition, such as obstructive sleep apnea, drivers are being encouraged to only operate a vehicle if fully rested.


Ford Canada, understanding the implications of driving while tired, has created an impairment suit that simulates the feeling of sleep deprivation. Outfitted with weights, the “sleep suit” weighs down the body and creates an imbalance that typically comes with fatigue. Specialty glasses, controlled by a remote app, shade over to simulate the period of time when a driver’s eyes are closed. Their aim is to show what sleep deprivation feels like so that individuals can know the warning signs and understand its effects.


The Introduction of Electronic Logging Devices

Truck drivers spend long hours on the road. Paper logs used to track hours-of-service, have begun to be replaced by Electronic Logging Devices to monitor and limit the number of hours truck drivers spend on the road, which helps prevent fatigue and unsafe driving practices. According to regulations set out by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, drivers must only work thirteen hours per day and must take eight consecutive hours off. Electronic logging devices have already been implemented in the United States and Canada is not far behind, as companies have started adding them to vehicles over the past year. 


“Electronic devices track when and how long drivers have been behind the wheel. They are tamper-resistant and integrated into commercial vehicle engines, and are designed to ensure long-haul drivers stick to their daily driving limit and log their hours accurately.” -CBC News


One of the most tragic examples of driver fatigue and improper log book maintenance can be seen in the findings on the 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash.


It was found that driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu had falsified his log book on several occasions. 


“The dozens of violations cited in the report revolve mostly around missing data in Sidhu's driver log book, according to the report. Regulators track these log entries in part to prevent drivers from working when excessively fatigued or sleepy.

Sidhu failed to account for time on and off the job, to account for the city or province where he spent each shift, and to document whether the vehicle had any defects.”

Sidhu is not the only truck driver who has been found in violation of these regulations. Between 2010 and 2015 over 9,400 convictions were made based on hour-of-service violations. 

 

Electronic logging devices are expected to improve things by providing better monitoring of the number of hours those working within the transportation industry spend on the roads, to ensure that they get the rest needed to operate a vehicle safely. In the case of an accident or crash, the devices also help determine what may have caused the incident and if long work hours were involved.

 Education and Testing

 

The biggest prevention method is educating people about the effects and dangers of sleep deprivation and how easily they can be prevented. Testing can determine if an employee suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, if they experience bouts of micro sleeping, and if other factors are contributing to their lack of sleep. 

 

At SureHire, we have created a Fatigue Management Program in partnership with Respiratory Homecare Solutions, to assist those working within the transportation industry. Through specific testing, we can help determine the sleep health of those currently working, or seeking to work, in a position in the transportation industry and educate individuals of the risks involved. 

 

To learn more, view our current testing program and contact our team! 

 

SureHire is a leader in Occupational testing. We offer a variety of testing from drug and alcohol to fitness to work and respiratory and lung health programs to ensure a safe and healthy workforce.