Driver Fatigue

What is driver fatigue?

Driver fatigue is also not just falling asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Losing focus on your driving task, missing important prompts on the road like road signs is also an indication of driver fatigue.

Research shows that most fatigue related crashes happens within twenty minutes from home or on trips of two hours or less.

Driver fatigue is one of the most under reported causes of crashes worldwide. Some countries estimate that driver fatigue is prevalent in as many as 30 percent of all injury crashes.

What causes driver fatigue?

Again, there are various causes, but the following are the most common ones:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Concentration on driving task
  • Tired after a full day at work
  • Illness and/or medication
  • Driving after a long flight

How can I reduce the risk?

How can you reduce the risk of driver fatigue? Here are ten tips that may save a life:

  1. Never drive when you are feeling tired.
  2. Get enough sleep before the trip.
  3. Share the driving with other licensed passengers.
  4. Plan for regular rest stops;
  5. Eat light meals or fruit throughout the journey.
  6. Stay hydrated.
  7. Get fresh air ‒ put the air vent on fresh air and not on recycle.
  8. Power nap ‒ it is a short nap of between 20-40 minutes.
  9. Avoid using any alcohol or drugs before the trip
  10. Stop over at “driver reviver” stops or stop

What doesn't work?

  • Opening windows;
  • Loud music
  • Drinking lots of coffee or energy drinks
  • Exercising in the vehicle

Doing these things has not been proven to increase driver alertness.

Other interesting facts about driver fatigue

Good drivers can read the road and traffic conditions to take evasive actions when needed. On the other hand, dodgy drivers drive like zombies, unaware of what’s happening around them. This makes them and other road users extremely vulnerable.

Warning Signs

Frequent yawning or blinking;
Difficulty to keep your eyes open;
Feeling irritated;
Finding it difficult to maintain a constant speed;
Trouble staying focussed on your driving task;
Slow reactions, like braking too late;
Making incorrect choices;
Taking unnecessary risks;
Travel over some distance without remembering doing it;
Trouble keeping your head up;
Drifting all over the road, like over the centre line or too close to the side of the road

Other interesting facts about driver fatigue

  • It is more dangerous to drive between 1am and 5am than at any other time of the day. The next most dangerous time is between 1pm and 5pm.
  • If you drive after staying awake for 17 hours, you will behave like a driver who is just be-low the legal blood alcohol limit.
  • If you drive after staying awake for 24 hours, you are just as dangerous as someone who is over the legal blood alcohol limit.

On short trips in town, take a taxi, catch the bus or ride with a friend or colleague.