Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of death on our roads. Don't let it take you to your final resting place. Pull over to a safe area as soon as you feel the first signs of fatigue.
Drivers most at risk
- Drivers under age 30 and drivers aged 55 or older, especially men
- Professional drivers
- Workers with irregular schedules, long work days or who work night shifts
- Individuals who suffer from an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder
- Individuals whose lifestyle decreases the amount and quality of sleep they get
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.
Driving while tired is driving with an “impaired brain”. The consequences?
- Slower reflexes and decreased alertness
- Slower reaction time and risk of drowsiness
- Altered memory
- Reduced visual field
Don't believe in magic solutions!
You can't just decide to be less tired. Will power and driving experience won't make any difference.
Rolling down the window, turning up the radio or chewing gum have no effect on fatigue and are really just myths and false beliefs.
The only way to win the battle against fatigue is to stop driving as soon as you feel the first signs.
Here are a few tips
- If you are taking a long trip, make sure you are well-rested before you leave and plan for breaks every 2 hours.
- If you feel tired, pull over to a safe place to take a 15- to 30-minute nap. Drinking coffee can also help, especially if it is consumed before the nap.
- Hand the wheel over to another driver.
- 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. There is a greater risk of drowsiness in the early and mid-afternoon.
- Avoid monotonous and poorly lit roads at night.
- Slow down. Driving at higher speeds forces you to process a larger amount of information quickly, which brings on fatigue.
- Avoid visual fatigue, e.g. by dimming the dashboard lighting.
- Eat light meals and stay hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol.
Taking a break
A break will restore your alertness for a very short time, whereas a nap will help you recuperate if you are tired, and you will feel rested longer.
Taking a nap
A nap can never replace a good night's sleep, but in case of severe fatigue, it can help you safely continue your trip for a period of 2 to 3 hours.
Last update: September 30, 2022