Driving fatigued is a condition that affects everyone at one time or another. Crashes that occur as a result of micro sleep, which is sleep lasting from 5-10 seconds related to your circadian rhythm, are known to occur more frequently than once thought. Circadian rhythm causes nearly everyone to be less alert or even drowsy between the hours of 1pm-5pm and again between 8pm-9pm. In fact, driver’s who become drowsy or fall asleep at the wheel contribute to 200,000 crashes each year.
What causes fatigue?
- Sun glare
Effects of fatigue
- Impairs your vision and other senses
- Judgment and decision-making abilities slow down
- Causes you to misjudge speed and distance of other vehicles
Many fatigued drivers become irritable, discourteous and overreact to minor irritations.
If you are taking a long trip, follow the guidelines below:
- Be well rested
- Wear sunglasses
- Avoid heavy foods
- Be aware of your physiological down time
- Stop periodically
- Have another person ride with you
- Share the driving
- Drink beverages that contain caffeine
Actions that will not help:
- Opening the windows
- Playing the stereo at high volume
- Driving faster
- Trying to tough it out
If you feel fatigued while driving, pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so to avoid a possible crash. Taking a nap between 30-45 minutes long will help you stay alert for another 3-4 hours.
Author: Rich Heinrich
Master Instructor, Emeritus