It’s a surprising statistic, but nearly 2/5ths of drivers have admitted to being so tired that they have been worried about falling asleep at the wheel.
The bad news is that there could soon be a blood test that will show whether you are driving impaired because of lack of sleep. That could lead to prosecutions in the future if you are stopped by police and they suspect you are simply too tired to drive.
According to The Guardian, driving on too little sleep can be almost as dangerous as driving with alcohol in your system. The three main major causes of accidents on the road are generally thought to be drunk driving, speeding and fatigue. Some research has recently revealed that fatigued driving accounts for around 20% of accidents in the world today.
While the possibility of a blood test may well be a few years off, it’s important if you drive regularly that you reduce the risk of tiredness and understand the potential risks. At White’s Bodyworks, we’ve put together a simple guide to help.
How to Reduce Fatigue Driving
Driving while too tired is extremely dangerous and can significantly increase the risk of having an accident. It’s an important part of road safety that people all too often tend to ignore. Here are some ways to avoid or cut down that risk:
- Prioritise getting an adequate amount of sleep before embarking on a long drive. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep to ensure you are well-rested and alert and ready for the challenges ahead. One of the more startling statistics is that around half of us have admitted to driving on less than 5 hours of sleep. That’s not a good thing.
- Plan your journey if you are travelling a long distance and consider breaks for rest and meals. This allows you to create a realistic timeline and avoid rushing to get to your destination – a dangerous combination if you are also pretty tired.
- Plan to take breaks every two hours or 100 miles to stretch your legs, get fresh air, and give your mind a break. Use these breaks to rest, hydrate and rejuvenate.
- Try to avoid driving during the hours when your body naturally feels sleepy, such as late at night or early morning. If this is not possible, make sure that you get some rest for a few hours before you set off.
- If you have a companion, take turns driving. Sharing the driving responsibilities allows each person to rest and reduces the risk of fatigue. Having someone else in the car also gives you someone to talk to if you are feeling tired.
- Dehydration can contribute to tiredness and sap energy, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your journey. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine and sugary drinks. They can give an initial boost but cause crashes later on.
- Large, heavy meals will certainly lead to drowsiness. Opt for light, nutritious snacks and meals that provide sustained energy without making you feel sluggish.
- If you feel fatigued or drowsy while driving, find a safe place to pull over, such as a rest area or service station. Take a short nap (around 20 minutes) or engage in a physical activity like walking to help refresh your mind and body. Don’t persist in driving.
- Ensure your driving environment is comfortable. Adjust the temperature, use supportive seating, and minimize distractions to help you stay focused and alert. Opening the window to let in the air can help if you are feeling a little drowsy.
- Finally, some medications can cause drowsiness or impair your driving abilities. Read labels carefully and consult your GP to understand any potential side effects and how they may impact your driving if you are making regular trips.
Tiredness will impair your judgment, reflexes and ability to react quickly. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake or can’t focus, it's crucial to prioritise your safety and that of others on the road. If necessary, find alternative arrangements such as resting at a hotel or postponing your trip until you are well-rested.