The fact that drunk, drugged and distracted drivers are a danger to themselves and others is fairly well understood, but tired drivers, although often ignored as a risk, are just as dangerous. Sleepiness behind the wheel is probably the leading cause of nearly one-third of all road crashes. To drive safely, fatigue at the wheel must be avoided.
Planning long-distance trips
Even experienced truck drivers cannot drive more than 9 hours a day or work more than 13 hours. Most motorists are not used to driving that long. To avoid fatigue at the wheel, it is therefore recommended not to drive more than 8 hours at a time per day. Take regular 15-minute breaks when you travel more than three hours. Try to take a break every two hours or so, especially if you’re not used to driving long distances. If you’re tired, don’t start a long trip. There are also a few situations that make it easier to drive, such as being overfed, driving at times when you are normally asleep or after strenuous exercise, especially for older people.
Getting enough sleep
According to some experts, the best way to fight drowsiness and thus avoid fatigue at the wheel is sleep. This is what your body needs at this stage, either after being awake for a long time or because your biological clock indicates that it’s time to sleep. Sometimes both happen at the same time. The risk of driver fatigue is highest between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. and again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Loud music or cold air may keep you awake for a very short time, but does not satisfy your basic need for sleep.
Drink caffeine in moderation
Beverages containing caffeine, whether coffee, tea, soft drinks or energy drinks, can be helpful in avoiding fatigue while driving. However, treat yourself to a coffee or other caffeinated beverage in moderation – once every four hours or more is recommended. And, if you can handle it, try drinking coffee without milk, cream or sugar. Loading your coffee with a lot of sugar will only cause problems in the long run.
Make the choice not to drive when you are tired or follow these guidelines to avoid fatigue at the wheel.