Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road.
Q: What steps can you take to reduce drowsy driving incidents involving your employees?
A: First, I hope that drowsy driving is on your radar of safety concerns. This should be something that is company-wide and not just focused on those who drive for part of their job. You can start by educating all employees about the importance of sleep. Encourage and empower your employees when they are tired to pull over and take a quick break. Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each day to reach peak performance levels, according to research from the National Sleep Foundation. Yet, in a National Health Interview Survey, 30% of respondents said they average less than six hours of sleep.
Talk with employees about the risk and potential impact of being tired when they or a co-worker are behind the wheel. National Safety Council research indicates:
- You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued
- Losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers
- Being awake for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally drunk
In February, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued a report indicating 9.5% of all crashes and 10.8% of crashes resulting in significant property damaged involved drowsiness.
Poor sleep can lead to a number of health issues that can impact job performance and driving skills. Chronic sleep-deprivation causes depression, obesity and cardiovascular disease. According to the AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index, 3 in 10 motorists admit to driving when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month.
A final thought: Some national and state sports teams monitor the sleep of their athletes, as they know that peak performance is tied to sleep and fatigue, so if it’s good for sports athletes, shouldn’t it be good for employers? Both are looking at the bottom line.