In a recent discussion group, One of the matters arising was drowsy driving. When I posed the question: Has anyone found himself sleeping while driving? Almost all the participants said this had happened to them at one time or the other. One of the participants said that he just had the experience the previous week and that it was so serious that it was the honking of other vehicles that kept him alert throughout the journey. Dangerous! You may say, but this is the reality. A lot of drivers drive while feeling sleepy and for some reason, they cannot speak up, which raises a very big question about how to help such drivers avoid the risk of driving in such a state.
Personally, I have been involved in an accident caused by drowsy driving. We were only fortunate to be alive. On another occasion, because I was seating with a driver at the front, I helped to prevent our vehicle from crashing by waking up the drowsy driver. A lot of factors contribute to making drivers drive drowsy. However, they were worried when I recommended that a driver could stop to take a nap if he felt drowsy. The question one of the participants asked was: what if I am with my boss? This question arose as a result of the fear of being penalized for speaking up about one’s condition which is affecting his productivity at the time. To prevent drowsy driving experts recommend the following:
- Get a full night of sleep before driving, especially when going on a long trip.
- Arrange for someone else to give you a ride when you are tired or when you know that you are unable to get enough sleep.
- Avoid driving late at night.
- Avoid driving alone.
- Share the driving with another passenger when taking a long trip.
- Never take any medications that cause sleepiness before or while driving.
- Use caffeine for a short-term boost.
- Pull over at a rest stop or in a safe parking lot and take a nap when you feel drowsy.
Everyone, including top executives who make use of personal drivers will agree with the above preventive steps. But how fully will bosses help to ensure that their drivers do not drive while sleepy?
Research has shown that many drivers, especially in developing countries, work under very tight schedules which leave them with little time to rest. Some combine work at the office with running domestic errands. Others live very far away from their bosses’ homes and offices and they work late into the night, which makes them to get home very late in the night at the end of the day. All of these will definitely deprive the driver of enough sleep. How can the boss help the driver whose work has to do with taking the boss safely to and from work to drive without being drowsy? I would recommend the following:
- If you a transport company owner, executive or passenger who have drivers that always go on a long journey, make sure they always have a good sleep. For Executive going for long hour meetings, do suggest to the driver have a nap if the meeting will be a very long one.
- In view of the preventive measures recommended above, it should not be out of place to know the mental status, alertness of your driver. If he is feeling drowsy, never make an issue out of this. Remember your life is involved. Your goal is to get to your destination safely. You may do the following:
- Ask the driver to pull off to a safe place and take a nap, or do some stretches to keep him alert for the rest of your journey.
- You could also offer to drive for some time (if possible)
- If you have a pool of drivers, you can call your office to send a substitute driver.
- It is also very important to be considerate of drivers by releasing them early enough from their duty at the end of a work day so that they can have enough time to travel back home and subsequently get enough sleep.
- Study your driver to know his behavioral pattern so that if there is a deviation you may give attention to it. For example, if you observe that your driver frequently feels sleepy while driving, this is something that you as a boss must give serious attention by making effort to know why this happens. He may be stressed, have social issues, or perhaps, it may be due to alcohol consumption, etc.
- Develope a safety training programme for all drivers. This approach may also include the development of a journey management system, depending on the number of drivers in the organization”.
Dear road transport stakeholders, for your safety and that of your driver and your loved ones, please ensure that your driver avoids driving while feeling sleepy.