Fatigue Management Program Module 3 (part 3 & 4) – Truck Driver Health, Sleep and Alertness

This is a summary of the third and fourth lessons of Module 3 of the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP). This lesson analyzes the components of sleep and alertness.

Lessons 3 and 4:

Health and wellness is important for truck drivers and includes proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, positive relationships and other positive behaviors. To get the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise per week, drivers can take two 10 minute walks twice per day. Approximately 50% of truck drivers obese (BMI >30) and about 75% are obese or overweight (BMI >25). About 20% of Americans smoke, but nearly half of CMV drivers smoke. Nicotine does not improve alertness, but rather reduces oxygen flow to the brain.

General strategies for drivers to have quality sleep includes enough sleep, naps, healthful lifestyle, a regular schedule, following circadian rhythm, wind down before sleep and don’t consume too much caffeine. On longer trips between time zones, drives can pre-adjust their internal clock by shifting bedtime, use light and dark to help adjust and drivers should make sure they get enough sleep before the trip.

Good scheduling practices include a regular schedule with 7-8 hours sleep, all time for rest breaks, naps and commuting time, work with circadian rhythms when possible and total wake time should be no more than 16-17 hours per day. When scheduling, it is best to be regular; if not possible, it is better to have forward rotation than backward. Most people have trouble with the backward rotation of having to start earlier each day:

forward rotation

backward rotation

It is a driver’s obligation to comply with the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations and to exercise good judgment beyond complying with the rules by managing fatigue and alertness beyond HOS compliance. There are advantages and disadvantages to using team drivers. Teams can help each other stay awake and drivers can get more sleep. On the other hand, drivers get poorer quality of sleep in a moving truck.

To download Module 3, go to http://www.nafmp.org/en/downloads.html.

Michael Leizerman is a lawyer and truck safety advocate who has handled truck accident cases in a variety of circumstances, including fatigue and distracted driving.

 

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