Driving a van for countless hours around the country is demanding. It is no wonder that courier and delivery drivers, who sit behind the wheel for a large portion of the day, can end up being worn out after a while.
According to a recent survey conducted by the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF), two-thirds of professional drivers feel tired on a regular basis (60% of lorry drivers and 66% of bus drivers). More worryingly, 30% of lorry drivers and 24% of bus drivers have even admitted dozing off whilst at the wheel.
Staying focused for a substantial number of hours while sitting persistently in the same seat is no easy task. As fatigue kicks in, both our reflexes and decision-making processes gradually abate.
In fact, it is no surprise that fatigue has been identified as a major factor in fatal road accidents. To put things into perspective, in 2016 alone,4,002 people were killed in accidents involving vans and lorries.
What can be done to diminish driver fatigue? Vauxhall van leasing company, Van Ninja, look at how to stay safe …
Take pit stops
If you or your business are van leasing for the first time, you may not realise how many hours you will end up spending in the company of your new vehicle. Long hours on the road can have an impact on your attention levels. After a while, your concentration will inevitably start to fade, numbing your responsiveness and putting you and your fellow drivers at risk.
Make sure to pull over every two hours to freshen up and keep yourself alert on the road. Jump out of your van and have a stretch too – your stiff muscles will be very thankful!
Don’t let the stress get to you. With beeping cars and shooting mopeds zig-zagging in front of you, it is challenging to stay calm and rational all the time. Also, with the current driver shortage issue ravaging the UK, your schedule will look busier than usual. All these different factors may understandably rocket your stress levels through the roof.
That said, however, it is vital to stay focused and relaxed when driving your van. Turn on the radio and listen to some music – it will help you remain in the right mindset when sitting at the wheel.
Plan time to rest
Unfortunately, we don’t always have the luxury of being able to benefit from a reinvigorating night’s sleep. Drivers who sit in the driving seat feeling tired are more likely to doze off when at the wheel. In particular, research shows that this mainly tends to happen in the early afternoon after lunch (2pm–4pm) or during the early morning hours (2am–4am). If you are not used to driving at night, for instance, try to plan a rest stop for your own safety.
Today’s lease vans are equipped with tools that make driving more pleasant, relaxing, and enjoyable, including labour-saving systems such as cruise control and lane-assist. While these devices and comforts are designed to help you drive safely, they can paradoxically contribute to tiredness as well.
In fact, if you are a bit too relaxed, you may not pay enough attention to the road. Therefore, it would be wise to also check and possibly opt for a van that is fitted with an attention alert system, a device that will warn the driver if it thinks they are not sufficiently on the ball.
Recognise signs of fatigue
Fatigue can creep in when you least expect it. Thankfully, however, it has the habit of announcing itself quite blatantly through several different signs. Here are a few:
- Heavy eyelids
- Drooping head (as a result of neck muscles gradually relaxing)
- Loss of concentration
- Microsleep – This occurs when you doze off for 30 seconds with no recollection of it happening when you wake up.
This usually takes place when you are tired but try hard not to fall asleep. In the grand scheme of things, 30 seconds is not that long; however, when you are driving, even a couple of seconds of distraction (or, in this case, unconsciousness) can lead to a tragic outcome.
If you have passengers on board, make sure to take it in turns and switch drivers whenever the person at the wheel is feeling drowsy. If it is only you inside the van, stop as soon as you start experiencing these symptoms.