Research on Drowsiness / Driver Tiredness amongst Truck Drivers
Driver tiredness poses a significant risk to road safety – and several studies have indicated that this problem is experienced daily by Truck drivers
In a study in the US more than 36 percent of truck drivers said that finding a rest area in which to park is a problem every night.
More than 80 percent said that at least once a week, they continue to drive past the point of feeling “safe and alert” because they cannot find a place to stop and rest.
Factors which discouraged Truck Drivers from parking in public rest areas in New York included inadequate parking, enforcement of the two-hour parking limit, prostitution, lack of security, and poor or expensive food.
In a 1997 survey of 593 long-distance truck drivers randomly selected at private truck stops and public rest areas in New York, 25 percent of the drivers said that at least once during the last year, they had fallen asleep while driving – and 17 percent said it occurred on more than one occasion.
South African Research:
In South Africa a research study has been conducted by Nelisiwe Magubane & Mala Ramanna from the Interdisciplinary Accident Research Centre of KwaZulu –Natal on the topic “Truck Drivers and Road Crashes in South Africa”
This study concluded amongst other findings:
Main problems experienced by truck drivers: 39% Fatigue related
Main causes of road crashes: 41% fatigue related
The recommendations from this research include the following:
There should be government legislation that forces drivers to stop between 11pm and 5am for compulsory rest. Most drivers sleep for +-4hrs per 24hr.
Companies should allow drivers more family time. This will stop the use of prostitutes but also de-stress drivers.
More safe and clean truck stops are needed. Alternatively, along the route there should be lay-bys constructed with stadium lights and security so that drivers can sleep in relative safety. This is especially so on the N3 because drivers regard this national highway as dangerous.
Trucks should be fitted with communication devices, e.g. two-way radios. This can act as a mechanism to warn other drivers of possible hijacking situations or as a tool to ensure the safety of the truck and driver.
Almost all truck drivers are interested in participating in any government road safety strategy that will improve and promote their skill.
Drivers need to attend regular driver training courses to improve their skill as well as stop complacency. Further, there should be relevant training courses for truck drivers that carry specialized/ dangerous goods e.g. chemicals.