WINDSOR, CT. Two of the main causes for serious crashes are fatigue and distraction, according to Daniel Brown, technical manager of risk control at Travelers. Brown discussed how fleets can help manage fatigue during Travelers’ Transportation Safety Symposium on Thursday.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving accounts for 72,000 crashes per year and more than 800 people are killed from drowsy driving. Brown noted that studies have shown that one out of 10 drivers say they have fallen asleep while driving in the past year.

Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep every day to feel rested and alert. However, 35% of people say they get less than seven hours of sleep per night, Brown said.

“If you’re sleeping less than six hours a night, pretty good chance you’ll feel drowsy while driving,” he explained. “Driving without sleep for 24 hours is like driving while intoxicated.”

And for truckers – due to irregular sleep schedules, health issues, inadequate parking and long hours on the road – it’s worse.

To make sure their drivers get enough sleep, Brown said fleets should:

  • Comply with HOS rules as an organization. Build an operation around the off-duty time drivers need to get the rest they need, he explained.

  • Manage driver work schedules. Avoid situations where drivers are behind the wheel for long periods of time. He also said employers should be aware of illnesses or family circumstances that get in the way of them getting enough sleep.

  • Provide awareness training.

  • Facilitate sleep apnea testing. Make sure drivers understand the risks associated with sleep apnea and the programs out there to help them, he said.

  • Employ a driver management system that uses telematics.

When it comes to telematics, Eliot Feldstein, senior vice president at Lytx, described how the company’s DriveCam program can help fleets track risky behaviors, particularly as they pertain to distracted or drowsy driving.

With DriveCam, a video records events and then sends video only when a risky event, or unsafe driving behavior, is triggered, Feldstein said. Events are uploaded to a network and then sent back to Lytx. He said certified analysts evaluate the events and identify the cause and outcome and provide coaching comments for the drivers.

“The purpose of the solution is to positively coach drivers on behavior change,” he said. “Fleets end up with a profile of each one of their drivers. They can understand at a personal level what they need to coach their driver on to make them a safe driver.”

When studying distracted behavior, Feldstein said cell phones account for 4.3% of distracted driving, others factors include food/drink and reading maps/directions.

“Drivers with a history of distracted driving are more likely to have close calls and collisions,” he said. “Distracted driving and fatigued driving behaviors are occurring habitually and routinely. If we catch them before they become a problem, we can train, coach and prevent collisions from occurring.”

In a 2014-15 study of 14 members of a trucking group that uses DriveCam, Feldstein said the fleet found that after deploying the technology and using it over time, members saw a 51% reduction in distracted driving, a 69% reduction in event severity, and a 45% reduction in coachable events.

Brown explained that 36% of the customers he handles at Travelers use telematics for providing ongoing feedback and coaching for drivers, 26% for safety, and 37% for operations. He noted an FMCSA study found a 50% reduction in unsafe events and a 5-9% improvement in fuel economy with deployment of telematics.

The key, Brown said, is for fleets to look at how they’re using telematics and see if they’re using it to its full potential.