Archive for category fatigue

Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week, November 4-11

Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous mix that makes America’s roadways unsafe. Led by the National Sleep Foundation, Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week is a national campaign to educate road users about the hazards and serious consequences of drowsy driving.

Much like alcohol and drugs, sleepiness impairs a driver’s hand-eye coordination, reaction time, judgement, vision, and situational awareness. Sleepiness has many causes. Research shows that the risk of sleep-related crashes is higher for young males, shift workers, adults with children at home, truck drivers, and people with untreated sleep disorders or with short-term or chronic sleep deprivation.

In the United States, drowsy driving causes 100,000 crashes with 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year. In Washington State from 2011 to 2015, drowsy drivers caused 308 serious injury and 64 fatal crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study attributed sleepiness and fatigue as factors in at least 18,000 or 13% of all commercial motor vehicle-involved crashes. In crashes involving passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicle driver was twice as likely to be fatigue-impaired when compared to the commercial vehicle driver.

In Washington State drowsy driving is against the law, and could result in a $550 fine for negligent driving.

The following tips can help truck drivers prevent drowsiness and fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. Sleeping at night is best.
  • Maintain a healthy diet, eat at regular times, and don’t go to bed with an empty stomach or right after a heavy meal.
  • If possible, find a safe place to stop for a short nap lasting 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Avoid medication that may induce drowsiness such as tranquilizers, sleeping pills, allergy medicines and cold medicines.
  • Recognize the signals and dangers of drowsiness, including frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision.
  • Do not rely on “alertness tricks” such as smoking, drinking coffee, rolling down the window, turning up the radio, etc.

More information on drowsy and fatigued driving:

National Sleep Foundation Drowsy Driving fact sheet or infographic

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration



Preventing and treating heat exhaustion

By Jena Williams


As high temperatures continue, it’s important to stay vigilant in preventing and treating heat-related illness. Since truck drivers generally work alone and their health can affect others on the road, it’s important that they keep hydrated by drinking non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day.

Sip water frequently because by the time you feel thirsty, you are already somewhat dehydrated.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you may already be experiencing heat exhaustion:

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

What You Should Do:

  • Move to a cooler location.
  • Call someone to let them know the situation.
  • Lie down and loosen your clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
  • Sip water.
  • If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which is life threatening.

Most importantly, don’t keep working your shift until you get your symptoms under control. Your safety is more important than your delivery. If your symptoms don’t subside call 911.

Source: CDC

What if you had to break the law to keep your job?

By Jena Williams


Would you do it? Have you done it?

When questioned, many truck drivers will admit that they have when it comes to hours of service (HOS.) They know they’re at their limit, but dispatch tells them to keep going if they want to keep their job. What else can they do? What would you do?

Trucking company owners are generally operating on a shoe string. Staying in the black financially requires keeping customers and demanding consumers happy. Being late on a delivery is not an option. Or is it?

This article isn’t to debate HOS rules. That’s being done on the main stage by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and trucking industry stakeholders. This is to get us as a society to think about how we contribute to the problem.

Are we cutting off truck drivers and making their job harder and longer? Do we throw a fit if something we expect to be at the store isn’t there when we need it? Are we willing to give the driver that has already driven for 10 hours a day and maybe worked for 14 a break or will we continue to demand more?

In the comments, I’d like to hear your ideas on how we as a society can make the job of truck drivers easier. Truck drivers, dispatchers and owners – what are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments how we can help.

And for anyone out there who has never considered the value of all those trucks out on the road, here is a fantastic infographic to bring you up to speed: Truckpocalypse!


By Jena Williams


Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins Sunday, March 9 at 2 am. That’s when you get to “spring forward” with your clocks by an hour, consequently trading an hour of sleep for an extra hour of daylight.

As we collectively groan about the loss of an hour of sleep, DST does provide a platform to discuss the importance of sleep and how we as a society tend to minimize it.

You may have heard that studies have shown an increase in heart attacks and car wrecks after the time change.  As pointed out in this article by Richard N. Fogoros, M.D., DST does not necessarily cause these issues. Sleep disruption causes them. But since over 80 countries follow DST, it gives us an opportunity to quantify what happens when billions of people all over the world collectively disrupt their sleep.

A sufficient sleep routine is vital to good health. Let that statement sink in for a moment.

If you regularly trade sleep time for getting other things done, you may want to consider if you are really willing to trade your health to get those things done.

If you want to not become a statistic this weekend, prepare for the change ahead of time by adjusting your sleep schedule incrementally to reduce stress on your body. Sleep specialists suggest that you start by going to sleep 15 minutes earlier on Wednesday night and waking 15 minutes earlier on Thursday morning, adding 15 minutes per day until the hour changes on Sunday.

Another thought, watch out for all the other drivers on the road Monday morning who didn’t prepare. Good thing you’ll be ready for them!

More info:

Does Daylight Saving Time Cause Heart Attacks? By Richard N. Fogoros, M.D. link:

Video on preparing for the spring forward time change:

Sleep Tips from Web MD:

What does safe parking mean to you?

By Jena Williams

This time of year, most people think it’s finding a well-lit spot close to the mall entry. But if you’re a long-haul truck driver it’s more like finding somewhere legal to park so you can sleep where you won’t be robbed, killed or disturbed by prostitutes.

According to the 2013 Truck Parking Survey and Focus Group Results, the end of truck drivers’ shifts can be very stressful as they attempt to find a place to park for the night. Truck stops are often full and customer sites and city ordinances commonly prohibit trucks from parking overnight.

Of the 3,996 respondents to the survey, 39% stated that it often takes over an hour to find a place to park to take their mandated breaks. And during the past 12 months, 88% stated that they had to park somewhere that they didn’t feel safe during a mandatory rest break or during loading or unloading.

55% stated that they occasionally felt fatigued or unsafe because they had to keep driving when they couldn’t find a safe place to park.

One quote from the study was particularly telling “…Anytime I am out of hours and can’t find parking is dangerous. It’s a lose-lose situation. Park illegally or drive illegally. There is no legal solution.”

Most likely when you climb into bed at night, you feel safe, with no one to disturb you but your own family or pets. Imagine what it would be like to have to find a safe place to sleep each night… with the potential of being disturbed by a police citation or worse, someone who intends to harm you.

What can we do to make sleeping safer for the drivers who bring us everything we need?

2013 Truck Parking Survey and Focus Group Results:

Semi-truck driver dies in crash

By Jena Williams

Friday morning 51-year-old James Morton of Benton City was driving his semi-truck southbound on Highway 20 about 13 miles north of Cusick when he crossed the center line and ultimately died after a crash with another semi.

We don’t know the details of what occurred before this sad chain of events, but hope this will be a reminder to everyone to please drive carefully out there. If you are tired, take a break. If you are fighting a cold or illness don’t expect as much from yourself. Allow yourself time to recover and to work safely.

Our thoughts go out to the friends, families and companies of both drivers.

For more details from KHQ:

What would you do to keep an experienced driver for ten more years?

By Jena Williams


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published the results of a study: Occupational Highway Transportation Deaths Among Workers Aged ≥55 Years – United States, 2003-2010. The study found that on-the-job highway transportation death rates increased substantially at age 65, especially in transportation and warehousing industries and in transportation and material moving occupations.

It might seem that the finding of this study is, well, obvious. To be blunt, we tend to expect older workers to die more. But I would caution you to dig a little deeper because I think there is some important information to be gleaned here.

Consider that in the general population, these types of deaths only begin to increase substantially at age 75 years.  Why would deaths increase a decade earlier for workers?

There are many possible reasons and theories for this. I’ll present mine here and hope you’ll add yours in the comments.

The editor recommends interventions to benefit older drivers. (I would argue that these interventions would actually benefit all drivers!) The first is that we need to do a better job of selecting and adapting vehicles to accommodate drivers.

There are many other recommendations as well, such as less driving, less nighttime driving, etc., but I would like to explore the idea of adapting vehicles to accommodate drivers a little more.

Consider that before most people buy a personal vehicle, they sit in it and take it for test drive. Generally, people don’t buy a vehicle that isn’t comfortable to them. Unfortunately, comfort may not be a priority when many companies purchase their vehicles. Instead fuel economy, aerodynamics, and cost take the forefront. Plus, a company’s workforce comes in all shapes and sizes, so initially tailoring vehicles may seem nearly impossible.

One might argue that physical comfort doesn’t really have anything to do with crash-related deaths, but I would disagree. Fatigue is fatigue, whether brought on by long hours or awkward postures. It is still worth considering.

As the article states and we already know, “…older workers bring a wealth of skills and experience to the workplace…” I think we can agree that keeping an experienced worker for an additional ten years is valuable in a market with a declining labor pool.

What kind of investment are you willing to make in a skilled worker to keep them around for another ten years?  Would you improve the stairs into the cab? Would you add or improve handholds? Would you improve adjustability in the seat? Would you improve the location of the steering wheel? All of these can be associated with excess strain and fatigue on the body, potentially increasing crash risk.

And one more question, would you ask them what they need to make their job safer and easier?

These are just some of my thoughts. What are yours?

Link to full report:

And for drivers – always wear your seatbelt. Always.

Does how you spend your time matter?

By Jena Williams

You’ve got 14 hours to get your job done. Does it really matter when you drive, when you load, or when you take your break? Maybe…

A recent article by Soccolich, et al., suggests that how a truck driver spends his or her time during the 14-hour workday can matter a lot when it comes to safety. And it may not be as you think.

Their research showed that drivers were safer if they drove at the start of their 14-hour shift rather than doing task work (such as loading or maintenance) outside the truck for a few hours and then driving. If there was task work that needed to be done, then those drivers that took a one-hour break before beginning their drive were just as safe as those who started driving at the beginning of the shift.

How did they learn this? By using naturalistic data collection (observing drivers perform their regular work), the researchers determined that the length of time spent driving, whether 8 hours or 11 hours, did not impact safety as much as whether or not they performed other work  before the drive.

To categorize relative safety, the researchers developed criteria of safety-critical events (SCE) ­– crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts, and unintentional lane deviations – to gauge the safety of the work day. Using various cameras, they observed driver tasks and SCE to determine how timing of tasks impacted SCE.

New data, new perspectives, and new decisions to be made….In truth, this research may or may not impact federal regulations, especially since there is often controversy surrounding different forms of data collection. However, as an employer, the more you know about what contributes to incidents and injuries with your workforce, the more you can organize your work to mitigate risk.

Link to Soccolich article:

FMCSA: Summary of HOS regulations:

FMCSA: Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service

14-Hour Driving Window

This window is usually thought of as a “daily” limit even though it is not based on a 24-hour period. You are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. The 14-consecutive-hour driving window begins when you start any kind of work. Once you have reached the end of this 14-consecutive-hour period, you cannot drive again until you have been off duty for another 10 consecutive hours, or the equivalent of at least 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Your driving is limited to the 14-consecutive-hour period even if you take some off-duty time, such as a lunch break or a nap, during those 14 hours.

FMCSA approach to naturalistic data collection:

Citation: Soccolich, S.A., et al., An analysis of driving and working hour on commercial motor vehicle driver safety using naturalistic data collection. Accid. Anal. Prev. (2012),

What does the switch to Daylight Savings Time cost?

By Jena Williams

At 2:00 am Sunday we were supposed to have switched our clocks back one hour. If you didn’t, then, so sorry, you are already late! Either way, though, please take extra caution on the roads and at work today.

A study by put a price on the switch to Daylight Savings Time (DST) by investigating peer-reviewed literature and developing a Lost-Hour Economic Index to rank metropolitan areas. Specifically, they looked at the increase in heart attacks, workplace injuries in mining and construction sectors and increased cyberloafing by office workers.

They found that it costs over $1.65 per capita for our nation to switch to DST. Morgantown, West Virginia ranks in worst place with a cost per capita of $3.37. The highest cost per capita in Washington State is the Bremerton-Silverdale area at $1.71, followed closely by Spokane at $1.70.

So why do we do DST?

The United States started observing Daylight Savings Time during World War I as a way to conserve energy. Why we still do it is anyone’s guess, in fact some states such as Arizona and Hawaii no longer observe it.

What about car crashes?

Various studies have shown that car crashes increase on the Monday after the switch to Daylight Savings Time. Studies also show that many crashes by tractor-trailers are actually caused by the four wheeling motor public so please be extra cautions around big rigs today.

What can we do to make driving around big-rigs safer?

It’s obvious if one thinks about that a big rig is much heavier than a commuter vehicle so it takes them much longer to stop. But often as we (the motoring public) are attempting to get from Point A to Point B, we forget about the needs of other vehicles on the road.

So to increase the safety of everyone, give big-rigs a wide berth. It takes them much longer to stop and their blind spots are enormous. If you can’t see a driver in their mirrors, then they cannot see you.

And please, if you wake up fatigued this morning. Hit snooze again and stay off the roads.

Sharing the Road with Tractor-Trailers:

History of Daylight Savings Time adoption:

Tips for dealing with DST:


By Jena Williams

No truck parkingEveryone has a fundamental need for safety and security. If we don’t feel safe, stress levels rise, affecting many systems of the body, including blood pressure, gastro-intestinal, and emotional health.

Whether it is the economy, apathy, or societal indifference, it appears that theft is on the rise. My parents have lived in the same house for over 25 years without a major incident. However, over the summer, their house was burglarized and now they are fighting identity theft. Last week our cars were prowled and my brother’s sheds were broken into. We all live in different areas of town. Our family has definitely felt the surge in crime and lack of security. We feel violated and stressed even though we never came face-to-face with our perpetrators.

Jason Rivenburg was not so lucky. Many of you know his story, but for those who don’t, Jason was a truck driver delivering a load to a South Carolina delivery site. He was ahead of schedule and not allowed to deliver early so he needed to find a place to park and sleep for the night. Ultimately, he ended up parking his rig at an abandoned gas station. That night he was robbed and murdered for the $7 in his pocket.

Jason’s wife responded by lobbying for the passage of Jason’s Law to promote the use of existing government facilities like weigh stations and inspection sites to offer free and safe parking facilities. Jason’s Law was included and passed in the federal transportation bill. Although, this is an important first step to improve driver safety on the road, it leads to the question, is there anything else we can do to promote safety for drivers? And, most especially, safe places to park and rest.

Drivers, is it safe to park in Washington? Where? Is there a location where safe truck parking needs to be made available? Please let us know in the comments below.

More about Jason’s Law:

Bureau of Justice Statistics: