Tips for Avoiding Driver Fatigue
What are symptoms of driver fatigue?
- Difficulty concentrating
- Eye focus difficulty
- Head keeps sagging
- Eye rubbing or repeated yawning
- Road begins to blur
- Missing traffic signs or highway exits
- Lane drifting, driving dangerously close to road shoulder
- Irritable and restless feeling
These are the most common symptoms of driver fatigue while driving, and can lead to falling asleep, or worse, the National Sleep Foundation finds.
Adequate rest is as important as any other factor when it comes to road fatalities, as sleep deprived driving costs lives and property damage every day on our roads. Up to over 10% of road crashes requiring hospitalisation and/or leading to deaths are attributable to drowsy driving, according to a 2010 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study.
Impaired vision and reaction times that are markedly slower are very important factors as to the dangers of driving while sleepy, and it is recommended that every driver pay close attention to their fatigue levels. Statistics are available that show fatal motor accidents involving, as the main contributing factor, drowsiness, feeling sleepy, tired or fatigued, not feeling well and blacking out.
Sleep will always overcome you, however much you try to stop it. The only way to get rid of drowsiness is by actually sleeping. Sleep gradually comes over a driver, until they are asleep. Willpower alone cannot overcome drowsiness, as the body will eventually demand rest, which will result in dozing.
For those who feel like they can manage to drive while fatigued, drowsiness makes a driver less aware of the road and its surroundings to a very large degree, leading to severe judgement impairment.
In this rush to make it in this crazy world, sleep is sometimes sacrificed on the alter of being too busy or accomplishing one final task. The results are often grim, as studies into this phenomenon clearly suggest.
Tips for avoiding driver fatigue
- To avoid any road based mishaps, switch drivers if there is more than one of you. This allows one to rest while the other drives, especially during longer journeys. If you are the only driver, pull over to safe spot and get out of the car, walk around a bit, stretching your muscles. Very long periods of sitting in a comfortable seat can sometimes contribute to a lull, which can lead to drowsiness.
- Before embarking on any trip, ensure you are fully rested. Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended, in order to perform safe driving.
- Drive during hours you are usually awake. Driving when you are usually asleep disrupts sleep patterns, and your internal clock will be saying its time to sleep while you are driving.
- Maintain a good seating posture while driving. Slouching may contribute to drowsiness and fatigue.
- If avoidable, don’t drive alone. Sharing driving duties leads to less fatigue.
- As much as it is not a sleep substitute, a short term boost can be provided by caffeine. If needed, pull over to a safe area and take a nap.
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