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Not Drunk. Not Speeding. Just Tired.

The dangers and costs of drowsy driving

If your company has employees on the road, you’re well-acquainted with the risks and exposures of driving under the influence, and of fast or reckless driving. But perhaps the greatest danger to your drivers and others on the road is drowsy driving.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than one-third of drivers report that they’ve actually fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point, and some 60 percent admit to operating a vehicle while they were drowsy … within the past year.

In a widely reported incident last year, comedian/actor Tracy Morgan was severely injured, and a passenger in his vehicle was killed, when they were rear-ended by a fatigued tractor-trailer driver on the New Jersey Turnpike. But overall, the NSF considers drowsy driving incidents to be statistically underreported. Even at that, 2-1/2 percent of fatal accidents and 2 percent of injury accidents are attributable to drowsy driving.

Consider this: 18 hours awake may not seem like an especially long day to you. But after 18 hours without sleep, a driver’s cognitive impairment is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent. After 24 hours, it’s twice that, which is over the legal BAC limit in the U.S.

Fatigued driving is most common in young people, adults with children and shift workers. But anyone else on the road is at risk as well, and if your business has people working long hours behind the wheel your exposure is significant. The average cost of any type of accident to an employer nationally is $16,500, and drowsy driving accidents combine for a total cost $12.5 billion annually.

How can you insulate your business from the exposure of drowsy driving by employees? Technology can help, and it comes in several forms. Devices worn behind the ear, similar to a Bluetooth headset, can detect a driver’s head tipping forward in fatigue and sound an alarm. A dash-mounted camera operates similarly, detecting the operator’s alertness. There’s even a device worn on two fingers that can detect fatigue and loss of concentration, and alert a driver that it’s time to stop and take a break.

Technology, though, is only part of the solution. A robust education program for your drivers is a must, to make them fully aware of the dangers, the warning signs and even things like what foods to eat to minimize drowsiness. Consolidated can help you to put a complete program in place with the right training and the right technology.

For more information on helping your company combat the exposures of drowsy driving by employees, Contact Us.