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Is fatigue a serious problem among commercial drivers?

One in five traffic fatalities across the country involve a tired driver, according to a 2010 report by the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators. In 2007, researchers learned that approximately 60 percent of drivers surveyed had operated a vehicle while fatigued. Fifteen percent of surveyed drivers said they dozed off behind the wheel.

The studies gave an overview of behaviours by the general population of drivers in Canada. You might think that commercial operators don't make the mistake of driving while sleepy, but professional drivers have the same capacity for errors as anyone else on the road. Human factors like high-risk driving behaviours, distraction and fatigue are tied to more than nine in 10 heavy vehicle accidents.

Truck driver fatigue is taken very seriously by Transport Canada, the federal department in charge of making every form of transportation in the country as safe as possible. A collaborative effort by Canada and the United States, known as the North American Fatigue Management Program, was designed to help commercial drivers, their employers and others understand and combat the effects of driving fatigue.

The NAFMP fatigue management and training supplement motor carrier rules that limit the time that heavy vehicle operators spend on the road. Hours of Service regulations apply to motor carriers operating in more than one province.

Motor carrier fatigue research is ongoing. Programs and regulations expand as safety officials learn more about sleepiness. The Human Factor Report reflected the work of a safety task force headed by Transport Canada between 2008 and 2011. The task force drew data from more than 500 scientific studies to come up with 45 suggestions to prevent driver-related errors.

Driver fatigue is recognizable and can be avoided when drivers and motor carriers prioritize safety. When tiredness or other driving errors are traced to negligence, victims may appeal to a court for compensation to pay for damages caused by injuries and deaths.

Source: Transport Canada, "Motor Carrier Safety Research," accessed Aug. 21, 2015

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