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New Test Accurately Detects Driver Fatigue

by Charlotte Freed | Oct 04, 2018
Driver falls asleep behind the wheel

A recent study conducted at The Sleep Research Centre in England could be changing the way sleep deprivation is assessed in motorists. The study revealed that blood samples could accurately detect whether the sample came from a sleep-deprived or well-rested person.

The study identified a subset of 68 genes that researchers will use as biomarkers to develop a blood test to accurately calculate how much sleep a person has had. This test will improve the accuracy of current tests which assesses fatigue based on observable driver drowsiness, focusing on eyelid closures.

Sleep deprivation and fatigued driving are two issues the FMCSA has been attempting to address with HOS regulations. Studies show that drivers who get five to six hours of sleep rather than the recommended seven to eight hours double their likelihood of being involved in a collision.

Your safety is more important. Avoid driving fatigued by following these tips:

  1. Get a full night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel.
  2. Never drive after taking medication that induces drowsiness.
  3. Pull over to safe area for a rest if needed.
  4. Understand and act if when your body signals fatigue.

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  1. DDRIVERR | Oct 11, 2018

    #1.  Get a full night's sleep before... wheel.   (Thanks for the obvious)

    RESPONSE:  That is hard to do for the driver who is hired and works on "standby" or "fil-lin" basis.  That is hard to do for drivers who the employer requires to work night shift which requires the driver to sleep nocturnal-reverse-circadian / reverse sleep cycle, BUT, his family / wife / kids still operate on a diurnal schedule which massively conflicts with marriage / family function.  The kids come home from school wake dad up with the noise that kids make, and want dad to play with them.  Wife needs spousal communication and romance, consistent with their relationship of husband and wife, and HER DAY schedule.  How does a family man work / drive all night long, maintain his FAMILY, and his LIFE, and still get proper, uninterrupted rest during the day?

    HOW does a driver get proper rest who works for an employer, who requires that driver to work different schedules every day?

    Example:  Driver is dispatched to leave at 22:00 Monday night.  He ends up off on Tuesday.  Wednesday he is required to go out at 15:00 hours.  Thursday he has to go to work at 23:00.  Friday afternoon he might be off.  He has to go out again, Saturday morning at 02:00 AM.

    Circadian rhythm is a requirement for ALL human beings to be proper rested.  That is not possible given a lot of our truck driving jobs / employer requirements that violate basic and well understood biological requirements.

    #3.  Pull over ... for a rest if needed ...

    RESPONSE:  Ahh-Daahh!  Does anyone think this does not occur to professional drivers?

    Does anyone think the industry's general scheduling of runs/loads allows for any rest?  NO.  Many runs if not most, for most drivers, DO NOT ALLOW ANY, OR DO NOT ALLOW MUCH rest outside the 30 minute prior to the 8-hour DOT / or the 10-hour DOT.

    In fact, the scheduling of delivering many stores (as just one example of thousands) on one route, oftentimes the delivery schedule was concocted / planned by a dispatcher who "forgot" about the legally required 30 minute DOT break, and/or under-estimated the distance mileage / travel time needed at legal speeds and traffic delays, so the driver often, despite his/her best and noble efforts, ends up further and further behind his delivery schedule.

    If (for example), you have four stores, and the third store you get to 1.5 hours late, you finish their delivery late, now you run into 5PM local city rush hour traffic, and you get to the fourth store now 3 hours late.  The manager at that store had his extra employees, scheduled for three hours earlier, on time.  That same manager is not going to authorize any overtime to be paid to his employees, so he sent them home.  Now your delivery of the fourth store, takes 2 hours longer than normal, so now it takes 3.5 hours instead of the usual 1.5 - 2 hours.  The driver still has another two hours to drive after his last store, to return to his distribution center.  But he runs out of HOS, but he is assigned a day cab, cannot sleep in his truck, and his employer will not authorize / pay for a hotel room for the night.  Not to mention, the employer needs their truck and trailer back to reload for the next day (employers do not have / cannot afford double the number of trucks), and needs their driver back for the next day's driving, not stuck 90 miles away in some hotel room.

    Yes some drivers are unhealthy, and have sleep-rest medical problems all their own.

    But the majority of drivers / problems center around issues related to my comments above.

    With truck rollovers, people dying in horrible accidents, and drowsy drivers taking micro-naps while driving down the highway, yes the driver is blamed, and the driver is obviously at fault.

    But all the SAFETY idiots, corporate bean counters, bloggers, and commentators out there (thinking, making recommendations, and commenting about SHIT you have never done and know nothing about):  All of you can lambaste the driving industry (truck drivers) for the problem, but as referenced above - until you address shareholders' greed, manager's performance bonuses (jam more driver / employee work into each workday), driver shortages, bad roads and routing, construction efforts, weather affects, employer business models, dispatching and scheduling plans, warehouse procedures, logistical loading and unloading of trucks, warehouse staffing, client staffing / overtime issues, traffic delays, morning and evening rush-hour traffic standstills, STRESS, family functionality, shortage of legal and authorized rest areas, trucks (day cabs) that prevent a driver from (physically or legally) laying down and sleeping, ...

    UNTIL you / whoever addresses all the hundreds of causative GLOBAL effects, you WILL NEVER SOLVE THIS TRUCKING INDUSTRY SAFETY ISSUE of SLEEPY DRIVERS.

    Not to ignore a real, growing, and serious problem, but those of you bystanders and industry observers who do not DO what drivers have to do and think you have something to contribute to this conversation - SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GO AWAY!

    [Your] comments, blogs, and articles telling us obvious things all drivers already know, does not help us, and treats us collectively like a bunch of idiots, like we do not know these things already.

    The real problems drivers face and have to respond to every day are complex, global, universal, and - MOSTLY - WITHOUT potential solutions as long as you have human drivers driving trucks in non-sterile, uncontrolled environments filled with a baffling and unlimited number of unforeseen and uncontrollable mal-factors.

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