With the on-going focus on Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, it is easy to assume that regulatory compliance equates with fatigue management, but that is just not the case, according to Dr. Gerald P. Krueger, principal author of the Transportation Research Board’s report on Health and Wellness for Commercial Drivers and Don Osterberg, sr. vp of safety for Schneider National, Inc.
Krueger, who has spent the past decade researching and instructing managers, commercial truck operators and even military medical doctors on fatigue, health, wellness and fitness, takes a very practical and proactive approach to dealing with fatigue that involves everyone in a fleet organization, not just the drivers. “While managers can help certify HOS compliance, alertness while driving is much more complex than that,” he said.
Krueger will be one of the guest speakers on a Sept. 22 webinar presented by Truckload Carriers Assn. and Fleet Owner and sponsored by ResMed. The webinar, entitled “Alert at the Wheel: A positive, proactive approach to mastering driver fatigue and sleep apnea,” will focus on this very important issue.
“Fleets need to understand the ‘architecture’ of sleep and the basic principles of human circadian rhythms, which cause energy level slumps everyday from about 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.,” Krueger said. “Those rhythms are pretty resistant to change, making it very difficult to ask drivers to adapt to constantly changing schedules, for instance, or to drive through the night. One of the things fleets can do to help is to teach drivers, dispatchers and others to be alert for the 20-plus most common signs of lapses in attention.”
Like Dr. Krueger, Osterberg has become a leader in the area of proactive fatigue management, capturing industry attention for the program he helped to initiate at Schneider National, which includes specific interventions for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. “We believe that fatigue is a dramatically under-reported cause of accidents,” Osterberg says.
Schneider National is currently engaged in a study with Harvard Medical School and others to validate the results from the company’s fatigue management program. “I am not saying that everyone should do what we are doing,” he notes, “but driver fatigue is an issue fleets can’t afford to ignore.”
The webinar is being offered free of charge as an industry service; online registration is open now.