Having an accident as a result of driver fatigue will result in a higher level of personal injury than any other type of accident. This is because a crash caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel typically involves vehicles running off the road or into the back of another vehicle. They tend to be relatively high-speed crashes because drivers were not braking before the point of impact.
However, you might not always realise just how tired you are, so it is important that you are aware of the warning signs.
Research shows that normal sleep does not occur without warning. Warning signs include increased difficulty in concentrating, yawning, heavy eyelids, eyes starting to ‘roll’, and neck muscles relax, making the head droop. If you experience these symptoms, you should find somewhere safe to rest as soon as possible, rather than trying to fight off tiredness. Winding down the window, listening to music and talking to a passenger do not help prevent sleep, although they may temporarily help you to stay alert until you find somewhere safe to stop.
If you have a journey in excess of 2 hours, plan it into your working day, rather than adding it to your day.
- Try to avoid driving between midnight and 6 am.
- If you stop at the service station, park as far from the facilities as possible. The walk will help to refresh you. Ensure that your rest period is more than 15 minutes.
- If you drink caffeine, drink two cups of coffee or a high-caffeine drink, such as an energy drink.
- If you take a snooze make it no longer than 15 minutes. Set the alarm on your phone. Place the phone close enough to hear it, but far enough away so you physically have to move to switch it off.
- If you still feel tired, do not continue your journey.
Remember that safety is the most important thing to consider while driving – much more important than sticking to a schedule.