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Friday, November 9, 2012

Beating Police Driver Fatigue—A Free LMCIT Webinar

Police driver fatigue: we must manage the risk.

Every police officer who has worked a night shift has dealt with the issue of fatigue and driving. Many officers have caught themselves nodding off while at the wheel, or suddenly realized they can’t remember the last few blocks they traveled. 

We know there are times when officers are experiencing very short sleep periods and are drowsy, and their ability to drive is severely compromised. On a straight flat road with no traffic, they might luck out and be startled awake by the tires hitting the shoulder. But often that is not the case.

This issue is real—and it impacts the safety of the officers and the public. Well-known national public safety consultant Gordon Graham recently said: “Law enforcement is in denial in reference to fatigue,” and ”We must take the responsibility and manage the risk that fatigue poses to our law enforcement officers.”

And this concern goes beyond law enforcement. We know our EMS transport services are dealing with this issue—especially for crews returning to their stations after transporting a patient to a hospital, at night, and when things are quiet. The same risk factors apply.

Want to know more? We have a free webinar on this topic. I am the moderator, and League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) Loss Control Consultant Matt Columbus presents on police officer driving fatigue. The webinar was presented live on Thursday, November 15, and the recording is now available on the LMC website.

During this webinar, Matt explores the causes, effects, and “vicious cycle” of fatigue for police officers and its impact on their driving. The physical and cognitive impacts of fatigue lead to decreased situational awareness and poor decision-making. As Matt explains how cumulative risk factors begin to add up, I suspect many officers hearing this will be thinking: “I have been there!”  

Fatigue can cause loss of situational awareness.
We also discuss recent research on the topic, including studies from Harvard Medical School and the ongoing research of Dr. Bryan Vila (former Los Angeles-area police officer and associate professor of criminal justice professor at the University of Wyoming, and author of the book Tired Cops).

Most importantly, Matt explores recognition factors, a culture of denial, and prevention techniques that officers, supervisors, and departments can employ to diminish driver fatigue. 

Access the webinar recording at


Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next time: “Slip-Sliding Away—Improving Performance and Safety on Ice”

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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