- Abnormal sleep patterns. Many workers have nonstandard work schedules that include night or rotating shifts. This disrupts the natural sleep cycle and causes fatigue throughout the day. Sleep deprived workers are at risk for making critical errors in driving (Lyznicki, 1998). This is especially true in the late evening and early morning (Lyznicki 1998).
- Driver fatigue. Commercial truck drivers are at high risk of driver fatigue. This is due to irregular sleep cycles, inadequate rest stops, and pressure to deliver shipments early (Lyznicki, 1998).
- Work zone safety. The number of road construction injuries and fatalities has greatly increased in the past five years. This is related to poor construction visibility, poor driving skills in work zones and insufficient space for pedestrians (MoDOT).
Strategies to address these considerations
- Improve awareness, knowledge and skills. It may be helpful to increase employer and employee awareness, knowledge and skills. Encourage employers of shift employees to provide education about how to maintain sleep cycles and well-being. Train employers to recognize if an employee is not fit for driving. Information may be given to truck drivers on the effects of the lack of sleep and fatigue. It may be helpful to educate employers that pressures of early delivery bonuses can affect safe driving.
- Address safety concerns. Educate drivers, workers and pedestrians on work zone signage and the importance of heightened awareness in work zones.
- Enhance safety devices. It is important to recognize that some labor sectors put individuals at increased risk of motor vehicle injury because of the equipment they use as part of their jobs. It may be important to work with employers to help them understand the importance of providing motor vehicles with appropriate restraints for all personnel.
- Address work structures and expectations. Truck drivers with long driving times may not feel at liberty to take much needed sleep breaks because of schedules that have been imposed or incentives that have been offered. This may put them at increased risk for motor vehicle injuries. It may be helpful to work with employers as well as transportation authorities to develop strategies (including policy and educational programs) to minimize these risks.
- Educate managers and drivers. Practices such as enlightened scheduling, education of drivers and managers about healthy sleep, and health screening may decrease sleepiness driving.
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