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Worker Fatigue and Vehicle Crashes in the Oil/Gas Industry

TASA ID: 9075

An oilfield services company in South Texas employed just one mechanic to maintain its entire vehicle fleet, which included tractor-semitrailers, pickup trucks, and other work vehicles.  We will call him Mr. Alvarez, not his real name.  Mr. Alvarez worked 78-hour weeks, on average.  A typical workweek might include six 11-hour days plus being called in about twice a week for nighttime repairs, often at remote locations.  One evening he got home to his family at 8:00 pm following a two-day period in which he worked 19 hours straight followed by six overnight hours off, and then followed by another 12+-hour day.  That is 30+ hours of work in just over 36 hours.  Mr. Alvarez was a family man who liked to barbecue for his wife, autistic son, and other close family in his back yard.  He was finishing a barbecue dinner when he received a call from his supervisor to report to work.  Upon arriving there, he loaded a truck tire onto his company pickup and began a nearly two-hour drive to a remote site for a tire change.  He left the company’s gate at 12:10 am and drove at 75 mph on a state highway for about 30 minutes before striking the rear of another oil company’s tractor-semitrailer at full speed.  There was no evidence of braking or significant corrective steering prior to impact.  Mr. Alvarez was dead at the scene.

Uptrend of Nuclear Verdicts in the Trucking Industry

Written by Evidence Solutions Inc. (ESI)

TASA ID:

According to a report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), "Nuclear Verdicts" (defined as awards exceeding 10 million dollars) have been on a sharp rise over the last ten plus years. Not only have the number of these verdicts increased, the average award per case has also been skyrocketing. 

There are several hypotheses surrounding the reason behind this dramatic increase. Some have posited that the rise in medical costs necessitates these higher dollar awards, while others claim these increases have happened independent of other financial factors. The ATRI ranked this subject as one of its top research priorities back in 2019. They dove into the issue by looking at hundreds of cases from 2006 to 2019 within the newly created trucking litigation database. They looked at the growth of awards on average, and then did a statistical analysis in which they controlled for the other factors known to influence settlement size.

What's Your Safety Personality?

TASA ID: 9075

Do you have a safety personality behind the wheel?  Yes!  Everyone has a safety personality.  That’s because everyone has a personality, and several universal personality dimensions affect safety behavior.  Driver personality is the strongest of various personal factors affecting safety outcomes, in my opinion.  Others include driver age, gender, sensory-motor performance (e.g., reaction time), medical conditions, and mental abilities.  All of these can affect driver crash risk, sometimes strongly.  Yet it is my conclusion that driver personality exerts the greatest enduring affects.

Which Five Factors Affects Driver Fatigue & Alertness The Least?

TASA ID: 9075

Here’s a quiz with just one question:  Which of the five factors affects driver fatigue (i.e., drowsiness) and alertness the least?  

A. Individual differences in susceptibility to drowsiness
B. Amount of prior sleep
C. Time-of-day
D. Prior continuous time awake
E. Prior continuous time driving

Two Driver Behavior Red Flags

TASA ID: 9075

I’m a psychologist who has devoted my career to traffic safety, in particular fleet safety.  Two psychological laws of human behavior are the Law of Individual Differences and the Law of Behavioral Consistency (Holland, 1975).  In any group of people, such as a fleet of drivers, one can expect wide differences in behavioral tendencies.  Psychological differences most relevant to safe driving include sensation-seeking, risk perception, impulsivity, and conscientiousness (i.e., obeying rules).  At the same time, each individual’s behavioral tendencies are likely to stay remarkably consistent over time and across various situations.  Indeed, the psychological definition of personality is behavioral consistency over time and across situations.  Future behavior and risk can be predicted based on past behaviors and events.  That’s why we screen fleet drivers for their driving histories and more broadly for their personal histories in other areas of their lives.

Fleet managers should think positively and seek to recognize and reward safe driving and loyal service.  Yet one must be alert for red flags signaling risk.  One bad driver can damage the reputation and even the viability of a whole fleet.  Among those red flags are safety belt non-use and involvement in single-vehicle crashes such as rollovers and run-off-road.

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