Whether you are driving to work in the morning, or planning a road-tripping adventure, driver fatigue could creep up on you, and the results can be catastrophic. Driver fatigue is believed to cause approximately 26% of all collision accidents resulting in bodily injury or death. Driving while drowsy can greatly impair your reaction time, your ability to process information, and your steering control. In many cases it’s just as bad or worse than driving intoxicated depending on the level of individual sleep depravity.
According to a 2011 poll of Canadian drivers, 14.3% of respondents admitted they often drive while tired or fatigued (Traffic Injury Research Foundation). In fact, once you do begin to feel drowsy while driving, it is actually quite difficult to predict when you might fall asleep. It’s important to be cognizant of the warning signs before it’s too late.
Signs you are drowsy while driving:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids
- Repeated yawning and running eyes
- Daydreaming, wandering or disconnect thoughts
- Trouble remembering past few kilometers driven, missing exists and road signs
- Trouble keeping head up
- Drifting into a different lane
Before you drive anywhere, it’s important to plan ahead and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Try to drive when you’re most alert. If you are feeling drowsy, here are some proven ways to help you stay focused:
- Nap before you go on a road trip
- Pull over when you feel drowsy and nap for 15-20 minutes
- If you are on a long drive, take breaks to nap every 2 hours for 15-20 minutes (not on the shoulder of a highway)
- Alternate driving time with another driver every 2 hours while the other naps
- If possible, avoid driving during the times you would normally be sleeping
What Does not help:
- Opening a window
- Drinking caffeine
- Stopping to exercise
- Turning up music
Driving while fatigued is not only dangerous, it is reckless. It is just as serious as driving while under the influence of alcohol. So, before you sit behind the wheel, ask yourself: am I feeling tired?