Warning! Never operate heavy equipment under the influence of ...

Look on any medication and you’ll see a similar warning. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, physicians and pharmacies know the danger – it can impair judgment. Patients that use these medications endanger lives if they operate heavy equipment ("heavy equipment" does refer to motor vehicles.)

Despite these warnings, there will always be drivers who don’t follow directions. Therefore a primary reason for the label warning is to protect and indemnify manufacturers, physicians and pharmacies from potential negligence lawsuits. This "I told you so" defense is prevalent even in many Blue Collar punch lines (a.k.a. "Here’s yer sign!"). This litigious environment surrounding impaired driving is not just limited to the effects drugs and alcohol.

Deadened senses that slow perception and reaction time can also be symptoms brought on by fatigue and sleep disorders. Commercial vehicle safety regulations designed to combat fatigue apply to truckers and fleet managers who can also be held liable for negligence in fatigue related collisions if it can be proven they either failed to monitor driver hours of service or possibly ignored them in the interest of production. The driver’s mental state, cognitive ability and distraction are key issues at the core of this problem.

Consider also other issues such as cell phones, texting, road rage and aggressive driving that have all garnered much recent media attention and resulted in more and more regulation and pending legislation in the war against impaired driving.

With divorce, unemployment and bankruptcy rates reaching all time highs, couldn’t these stress related factors also be affecting the concentration and cognitive ability of drivers as well? One might wonder if the "Don’t operate heavy equipment under physical, emotional or financial stress" regulation will be next!

Don’t let it get to that point:

  • Include a "checkup from the neck-up" with every pre-trip.
  • Always take a moment and ask "am I in the best shape to drive - am I thinking clearly?"
  • Don’t wait for a government mandate!

Attitudes are contagious ... Does anyone want to catch yours?