How To Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue Through Optimized Driver Scheduling

Huge responsibility lies on drivers because South African logistics still relies on road transport to a great extent. Western Cape Provincial Traffic Chief, Kenny Africa, recently attributed driver fatigue as one of the biggest problems on South African roads and says it’s an even bigger problem for those who make a living from being behind the steering wheel.

While there are several regulations attempting to control the amount of hours that drivers work, logistics operators have a hard time balancing regulation with productivity, efficiency, and driver suitability.

“The solution isn’t as simple as many might assume,” warns Gert Basson, general manager of Mobile Solutions at VSc Solutions. “It is far more complex than just assigning a driver to a vehicle, and capping the amount of hours the driver is operating that specific vehicle.”

Each type of transport load is charged at a specific rate and may need more than just the driver accompanying it. Certain loads are allowed to be transported only by certain vehicle classes, with each driver licensed to operate only certain vehicle classes.

Taking into consideration such factors and the work hours mentioned in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the industry regulations specified by the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry, and the efficiencies each logistics operator must consider to turn a profit, the optimization of driver scheduling becomes a complicated task.

Smart scheduling

“Instead of expecting this complexity to be the responsibility of one individual, logistics operators can make use of smart applications that takes physical regulatory factors into account and optimize these into schedules or routes,” explains Basson.

An optimized driver schedule balances the workload and rotation of the entire resource base within applicable constraints roles and hours. This demands that the number of hours staff worked to date as well as the number of hours staff are due to work the current day are taken into account. This can only be done by comparing progress on current routes with proposed schedules of work planned for the days to follow.

Driver scheduling is often done based on payroll data which takes into account the amount of regular and overtime hours worked. The data does, however, not always make provision for special circumstance, or regulations relating to a specific route or vehicle class. “There are multiple role players and rules in organisation that needs to be catered for to ensure regulations are adhered to as well as applied in the most effective manner daily and over a working period,” says Basson.

“A safe and effective driver schedule needs to take into account HR, finance, payroll, leave, resource planning, transport management, asset management, licensing, and driver licensing, to name but a few.”

“Very simply, there are some instances where the right app can calculate the intricacies of optimized driver scheduling and route planning better than even the most experienced individual. It would be much better for any employer to rather use that individual in other areas where their experience will have an even greater impact.”

“In the end, driver schedule and route optimization are not just about turning a profit or just sticking to regulations. The impact of driver fatigue is not only expensive downtime and repairs to vehicles but in many cases, a tragic loss of innocent life.”

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