Prevention and Solutions for Fighting Fatigue
You cannot control fatigue, even with all your willpower, experience or motivation. Learn to recognize the signs! If you are tired, the only solution is to stop and rest.
Recognizing the signs of fatigue
Some signs don't lie:
- You yawn often.
- Your eyes are itchy.
- You have trouble:
- keeping your eyes open,
- finding a comfortable position (e.g., you're shifting around in your seat),
- concentrating and staying attentive (e.g., you missed an exit),
- maintaining a steady speed and keeping the vehicle on a straight course.
- Your reactions are slower (e.g., you don’t apply the brakes as quickly as the situation requires).
- You have memory lapses (e.g., you can’t remember the last few kilometres driven).
- You are seeing things that are not there, particularly when there is fog or on monotonous stretches of highway (e.g., you think you see an animal on the road).
- You stop looking in your rearview mirrors.
Beware of myths!
Rolling down the window, turning up the radio, singing, changing positions, chewing gum or talking to passengers are not effective and long-lasting solutions. They are really just misconceptions concerning driver fatigue.
Is feeling tired part of your everyday life?
If you feel constantly tired or have the feeling that your sleep is not restorative, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder or another health problem. You should consult a physician.
Break or nap?
A break will improve your alertness for a very short time. A nap will help you recuperate if you are tired, and you will feel rested longer.
Naps cannot replace a good night’s sleep, but…
In case of severe fatigue, a nap can help you safely continue your trip for 2 or 3 hours. If you have more than 2 hours of driving to go when you start to feel tired again, the best thing to do is to stop for a period of time that is equivalent to a full night’s sleep.
Where is it safe to stop?
In the parking lot of a rest area, a roadside service area, a business or any other area where turning off the ignition is allowed without endangering your safety or the safety of others. You can also stop at a village-relais that provides a full range of traveller services.
The shoulder of the road: only in case of emergency
In addition to being prohibited on a highway, stopping on the shoulder is not safe, since there is a risk of collision with other vehicles.
A few tips for keeping your eyes open during long trips
- Get some rest before heading out and plan for breaks about every 2 hours.
- As soon as you start to feel signs of fatigue, stop in a safe location and take a 15- to 30-minute nap. Drink coffee, ideally before you take a nap, as it may take 20 minutes for the coffee to take effect.
- If you can, ask a passenger to take over driving duties.
- Whenever possible, avoid driving at night or at times you would normally sleep.
- Plan trips by taking into consideration the times when fatigue is most often felt. For example, avoid monotonous and poorly lit roads at night.
- Slow down: over time, the extra information you need to process causes fatigue.
- Avoid visual fatigue, for example by dimming the dashboard lighting.
- Eat light meals and stay hydrated.
- Take into account any medical condition that could increase the risk of fatigue.
Last update: June 4, 2022