Driver Fatigue: NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman Speaks


Driver Fatigue: NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman Speaks

While no one should be assuming that the horrific crash last weekend on I-65 was caused by big rig driver fatigue, that discussion does bring to mind the signs of driver fatigue — and how a semi truck driver may have signs that it’s time to pull off the road (besides the HOS requirements).

Research by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that 52% of 107 commercial truck accidents involving only that vehicle were caused by truck driver fatigue. The Department of Transportation reports that fatigue is a contributing factor in around a THIRD of all fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Earlier this month, Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the NTSB spoke to the National Sleep Foundation about this very issue. Her speech can be read in its entirety on the NTSB website.

One of the key points made during her speech is that there are no scientific tests available to know when a driver is too tired to drive a big rig, plane, or train — like there are for impairments due to drugs or drinking alcohol (breathilyzers, blood tests). Currently, setting up procedures to prevent fatigue (HOS) and depending upon self-testing remain the only tools against driver fatigue. Therefore, employers and drivers must continue to work hard to get fatigued drivers off the road.

Signs of Driver Fatique include:

  • driver keeps yawning
  • driver is day-dreaming
  • vehicle is wandering over the lane marker or stripe
  • driver’s having trouble keeping his eyes open
  • driver cannot remember driving along the last few miles of road.

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