The dangers of fatigued driving are becoming well known now with a recent study, conducted by the Queensland University of Technology revealing important information to drivers. The study found that the risk of getting into an accident was similar for both tired drivers and drink drivers. Many of us, however, don’t see the harm in driving when we haven’t had a good night’s rest.
The study showed that staying awake for 17 hours straight had the same effect as a BAC of 0.05%, and staying awake for an extra three hours had the same effect as double the legal BAC limit. Driving sleepy can diminish your cognitive and psychomotor abilities. This affects vital skills needed when you’re on the road including your attention, decision making and coordination abilities.
What was really alarming was the fact that many young drivers did not see a problem with fatigue driving. This comes as a worry as younger drivers will probably experience fatigue-driving the most. This is due to the adolescent body having a different sleep-wake system, where they have more late nights awake but have early started in the morning. Others who also experience fatigue driving the most include truck drivers. The long hours on the road, especially at night, means irregular sleeping patterns which can cause chronic sleep deprivation.
Here are some tips to avoid fatigue driving especially if you’re planning a long trip:
- Plan your trip ahead and organise overnight stops
- Eat enough food but not too much
- Take regular breaks – the rule of thumb, stop every two hours for 15 minutes
- As soon as you feel tired stop and rest – try the designated rest areas and driver reviver stops
- Try to drive during the day and not during normal sleep times
- Share driving duties if possible
Common signs of fatigue include yawning, closing eyes for a moment, blinking more frequently or slowly veering off the road. However, we shouldn’t need to tell you this as everyone is well aware of when they are tired and it’s important, if you are ever feeling sleepy, to get off the road and take a break.