People get tired but when they’re driving a truck loaded with thousands of pounds of freight, the risks associated with fatigue increase exponentially.

People get tired but when they’re driving a truck loaded with thousands of pounds of freight, the risks associated with fatigue increase exponentially.

There’s no getting around it — people get tired. But when they’re driving a truck loaded with thousands of pounds of freight, the risks associated with fatigue increase exponentially.

As a result of continuing research into fatigue management and the evolving hours-of-service regulations, a collaborative effort between the United States and Canada led to the creation of the North American Fatigue Management Program. NAFMP offers education and training materials, including best practices, for both over-the-road drivers and motor carriers/dispatchers who are responsible for determining driving schedules.

“Hours-of-service regulations address one element while educational fatigue management programs offer holistic strategies and techniques to improve safety,” says Duane DeBruyne, deputy director of the Office of Communications for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

 NAFMP was unveiled in July 2013 and is being voluntarily adopted by motor carriers and drivers across Canada and the U.S. The program’s steering committee continues to solicit feedback from participants to further strengthen resource materials, enhancing the program and making it more accessible and effective, according to DeBruyne.

But the program is still evolving, as noted by Roger Clarke, a consultant with Motor Carrier Safety Associates and chair of the NAFMP.

“I believe that there are significant limitations in any HOS regulations, and that fatigue related incidents can be significantly reduced with greater acceptance and deployment by motor carriers and CV drivers,” says Clarke.

The program elements have been proven effective in reducing fatigue in CV drivers, according to Clarke, and have been incorporated into safety programing with many large carriers, and they are continually being accessed by individual drivers and smaller carriers. However, the program has not gained the traction with smaller and specialized carriers that it should have, “given the research findings and the limitations inherent in HOS regulations,” Clarke adds.

This past January, while speaking on the subject of NAFMP, Clark reminded the audience of a number of important facts to consider when discussing fatigue management with drivers:

  • Fatigue is a factor in 13% of heavy vehicle crashes
  • Fatigue is a principle cause in 31% of crashes fatal to the commercial vehicle driver
  • Approximately 178 commercial vehicle drivers were killed in 2012 due to driver fatigue
  • Average cost of fatigue-related tractor-trailer collisions is more than $350,000

While the program is now available to all fleets via its website (www.nafmp.com), Clark explains there are a handful of possible refinements and updates under development. These include a Spanish translation; certification for carriers that have fully implemented the program; and development of a detailed risk assessment tool for carriers. But there needs to be a combined effort to ensure its implementation across the board.

“I believe that insurance companies, shippers and government agencies are in a position to greatly increase carrier deployment through creating incentives for carriers that implement NAFMP,” says Clarke.

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