As 20% of all road crashes are caused by fatigue¹ it’s crucial to make sure your drivers don’t drive tired as it can have disastrous consequences. Today’s tips give advice on some of the best ways to avoid driver fatigue:
- Ensuring that you are well-rested before getting behind the wheel will help you reduce the possibility of micro-sleeps. These are short episode of drowsiness or sleep that could last a fraction of a second or 30 seconds. At 70 mph a vehicle will travel 31 meters per second, meaning the risk of a crash is high even during a very short micro-sleep.
- The effects of losing one or two hours of sleep a night on a regular basis can lead to chronic sleepiness over time. Try to avoid driving after a period of insufficient sleep, and make sure you are feeling fit and healthy before setting off.
- Take breaks. Splitting up long stretches of motorway driving can help to avoid drowsiness. It’s good practise to stop at least every 200 miles or 2 hours of driving, making sure to stop before the fatigue sets in.
- Take your vehicle’s advice. Some vehicles are fitted with a fatigue warning that tells drivers when their driving style is showing signs of fatigue setting in, if a warning appears then it’s time to take a break.
- If necessary, plan an overnight stop. If you feel too tired to carry on driving, then book yourself into a hotel at the next service station and sleep it off. Wake up fresh with a good breakfast and carry on with your journey.
- Coffee with caution. It’s good to note that a high-caffeine drink may be a quick fix, but it is not a long-term solution and certainly no substitute for proper sleep.
- Avoid driving in the evening. If possible, avoid the two peak times for sleepiness between 3-5am and 2-4pm where our natural sleep cycle makes us more prone to feeling tired.
- If you have taken prescribed medication, then seek advice from your GP as to whether you should be driving or not. If bought over the counter, then read the instructions on the pack or speak to a pharmacist.
Our Toolbox Talks are perfect for fleet managers worried about their driver’s sleep levels, offering a specific driver fatigue module that teaches best practise when it comes to avoiding fatigue. Contact us today to find out more.
IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman said: “Even the fittest of us need regular sleep to perform at our highest standards. Driving requires full concentration at all times and if you are tired, your ability to concentrate is reduced. Our internal body clock (circadian rhythm) is usually set to deal with our normal lifestyle, extra care needs to be taken when driving during a time we would normally be at rest. Stop, rehydrate and rest if you need to.”