February 2019 Newsletter: Sleep Health and Safe Driving


Q: Do your drivers or employees feel like they are on “autopilot” at times when behind the wheel?

A: Repetitious or monotonous driving can be the cause of time-on-task fatigue. So what does that mean? Researchers have related the duration of activity, or time on task, to fatigue symptoms.

You zone out and whisk past road markers without noticing much of anything in your driving field. You are tired and you are on autopilot. You pose a risk to yourself and others all around you because the skills you need for safe driving have been compromised, including judgment and reaction time.

Can you think of a time when you were driving and don’t remember the route you took?

Research indicates you are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued. In a survey of employers conducted by the National Safety Council, half of respondents said employees have fallen asleep on the job and, 90% said they have been negatively impacted by tired employees.

Take steps to address fatigue and drowsy driving:

  • Optimize employee work schedules
  • Allow naps where feasible
  • Educate employees about the importance of sleep, and create a culture that promotes sleep health.

Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep to reach peak performance levels. Losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers. On the roads, the consequences can be catastrophic. In 2016 and ’17, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported “very tired” or “sleepy” drivers contributed to:

  • 15 fatal crashes on state roads (16 people were killed)
  • 1,197 injury crashes
  • 2,619 total crashes (more than three each day)

Use these free resources to assist in your drowsy driving and sleep health education efforts. One is a new Live with Lisa video I am proud to say is great for showcasing on your social channels or featuring on video monitors where you deliver safety messages:

Cowboy Style

Employees get daily traffic safety reminders on a video monitor.

In the department of parking and transportation services at Oklahoma State University, supervisors and drivers are exposed on a daily basis to a looping traffic safety video that plays on a TV monitor. Plans are under way to set the video to loop in the bus terminal so riders will be able to watch, too.

“I truly believe daily safety reminders are effective in improving decision-making by drivers,” said Oklahoma State’s Steve Spradling, director of the department.

Spradling has formed a working partnership with National Safety Council Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson, Our Driving Concern Program Manager DeAnn Crane and others in an effort to keep people safe on roads in and around the Stillwater campus. The silent looping video, produced by NSC staffers, serves as an example of how employers can tap into free resources provided by Our Driving Concern to meet their transportation safety goals.

“I tell our drivers that money not spent on accident repairs is money that can be paid to them in salary increases in the future, which I think carries over from workplace to home,” Spradling said.

He said more than 15,000 vehicles park in campus lots, and about 2,800 people ride buses each day when school is in session. The university has an undergraduate enrollment of more than 20,000 students and employs nearly 7,000 people.

“Everyone that drives, supervises, dispatches or directs is involved in our safety efforts,” Spradling said. “Supervisors have regular safety meetings before shifts at least once a week.”

“The priority that Steve Spradling with OSU Transportation places on keeping pedestrians, bicyclists and others that share our roadways safe is admirable,” Robinson said. “Working with OSU transportation allows us to continue to develop materials that meet their needs but also to think of ways we can assist other Oklahoma employers. We are pleased to be able to partner to keep the roadways safer.”

Traffic Safety Video Tool: Share this silent looping file in your lobbies, breakrooms and other places where you post information on video monitors.