With the affects of sleep deprivation one of the leading causes of accidents for haulage drivers, the issue is understandably a high profile one. While mandatory rest breaks and highly visible roadside campaigns are going some way to reduce the worrying statistics of recent years, it remains an on-going issue in the industry. |
High Risk and High Profile
Haulage drivers, perhaps more than others in almost any other profession, are constantly at risk from the dangerous effects of tiredness. Simply by virtue of the job, many delivery workers rack up long, unbroken stretches out on the road, which can lead to a lack of concentration and a potentially dangerous decrease in reaction times. Because oftentimes a person is not cognitive of the condition, it makes it even more difficult to address – and even easier to understand why it’s the cause of so many vehicular accidents in the UK. But, in a welcome move from experts Sleephub, a programme called the SleepTweak Challenge is proving it can deliver positive results in a relatively short time.
Stats to Sit Up and Take Notice of
Here, in a nutshell is the lowdown on getting our heads down:
• In order to maintain what’s termed ‘optimal brain function’ adults need at least 7-8 hours kip a night • Around a third of the UK population only gets between 5-6 hours • The above figure also translates to the working population… • …which costs the UK economy around 200,000 working days annually – or £30 billion • Sleep deprivation (less than 5 hours) has the same effect on the brain as alcohol impairment
Haulage Drivers Take on the Challenge
The 24-day SleepTweak Challenge aims to identify potential health problems in haulage drivers and provide an effective solution. The programme uses a simple concept but it’s been successful in addressing this very serious issue.
Participants are asked to complete an introductory questionnaire in which they advise of any pre-existing problems – like restless leg syndrome, apnoea and so on. Once they begin the challenge they’re then asked to complete a daily diary and email it in to the experts to assess alongside their previously disclosed health information. Next, they work with a specially trained coach to put in place some regular habits and reset their routine, in order to help improve the quality and quantity of their sleep.
To date, companies that have put their haulage drivers through the programme have reported some impressive results. In one documented instance, over two weeks one company’s employees gained an average of 10% improved quality of sleep and an extra half an hour a night, while in some cases the improvements have been even better than that.
While, of course, not everyone has access to these kind of expert programmes, it’s important that drivers understand the implications of tiredness, not only on their own safety, but also that of other road users and pedestrians. Maintaining regular breaks, eating healthily and learning how to recognise (and act on) the symptoms of sleep deprivation are things everyone should try to stay on top of so we can reduce the amount of avoidable accidents on our roads.
Author Plate Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching available haulage drivers with work, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.
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