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How To Avoid Driver Fatigue

Causes and symptoms of driving tired and how to beat it

How to beat fatigue and be a more successful driver

Transport Accident Commission has a great article educating drivers on the causes, symptoms, and solutions to driver fatigue.

They cite that driving drowsy is a primary cause of over 20% of road fatalities. And most fatigue-related accidents occur during normal sleeping hours, and the more severe the crash, the more likely it is that the driver or drivers were fatigued.

An important fact they point out is that many people think fatigue is only a problem for long-distance drivers, however, it is just as relevant for short-distance drives. People generally don’t become fatigued from driving. Usually, they are already tired when they get behind the wheel from long hours, shift work, lack of sleep, sleep apnoea or physically demanding roles.

Another interesting fact they educate on is that your body can’t fight the need to sleep. Chemicals build up in your brain until they reach a tipping point and you will fall asleep.

Here are the causes they point to for drowsy driving:

  • a lack of quality sleep
  • driving when you would normally be sleeping (overnight)
  • sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, a sleeping condition that causes tiredness throughout the day.

They urge you to remember that you can’t fight sleep.

Some of the symptoms of fatigue are:

  • yawning
  • sore or heavy eyes
  • slower reaction times
  • finding you’re daydreaming and not concentrating on your driving
  • driving speed creeps up or down
  • impatience
  • impaired driving performance such as poor gear changes
  • stiffness and cramps
  • loss of motivation

Fatigue has a huge impact on your driving and can affect your ability to drive safely, similar to the effect of drunk driving. Research shows that being awake for 17 hours has the same effect on your driving ability as a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.05. Going without sleep for 24 hours has the same effect as a BAC of 0.1, double the legal limit.

The only way to address fatigue is by sleeping. Make a choice not to drive when tired or follow these guidelines to prevent fatigue:

  • get a good night’s sleep before heading off on a long trip
  • don’t travel for more than eight to ten hours a day
  • take regular breaks – at least every two hours
  • share the driving wherever possible
  • don’t drink alcohol before your trip. Even a small amount can significantly contribute to driver fatigue
  • don’t travel at times when you’d usually be sleeping
  • take a 15 minute power nap if you feel yourself becoming drowsy

Information taken from:

Published November 27, 2018