Beware of myths surrounding driver fatigue! Drinking coffee, rolling down a window or turning up the radio are not effective solutions.
“Drinking coffee equals 2 hours of sleep.”
Caffeine takes several minutes to act. It can make you more alert for a short time, but it cannot erase fatigue or your sleep debt.
The effects of caffeine vary widely from one person to another.
The caffeine content of drinks and food that contain some is very variable.
When you start to feel the signs of fatigue, the only really safe solution is to stop to take a 15- to 30-minute nap. Drinking coffee can help for a little while if you also take a nap. Take the time to stretch your legs and get some fresh air before hitting the road again.
“My trick is to roll down the window to get a little fresh air. This is reinvigorating and helps me continue on my way.”
Rolling down a window, turning down the heating or turning up the air conditioning will only have temporary effects, if any.
The signs of fatigue will return very quickly…
“I am an experienced driver with good reflexes. I am able to react quickly – fatigue doesn't really affect my ability to drive.”
Fatigue is a biological state that neither willpower, experience nor motivation can overcome.
Its effects interfere significantly with driver performance, regardless of driving experience.
“Over the past years, I've gotten used to sleeping fewer hours. My body is used to it.”
Most people require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Our bodies do not get used to lack of sleep, even in the long term.
The accumulation of a sleep debt can have harmful impacts on your ability to drive and general state of health.
What you should remember
You cannot control driver fatigue! You cannot “decide” to feel less tired. Your body decides!
Willpower, driving experience, motivation and all the “tricks” to fight fatigue won't change anything.
Only one solution: stop!
When you start to feel the signs of fatigue, the only real safe solution is to stop to take a break to stretch your legs or take a 15 to 30 minute nap, ideally.
When you think about it, a 15-minute break in a safe spot is much better that a big crash a little further down the road!