Asleep behind the wheel?

Driver fatigue is often a factor in fatal collisions. This applies especially to people (truck and bus drivers and holiday-makers) driving long distances.

According to the Arrive Alive campaign, there are some ways to avoid driver fatigue:

  • For long trips, plan in advance so you know where you are going to take a break.
  • Take a break at least every two hours.
  • Plan to stay somewhere overnight if you are going on a long journey.
  • Share the driving - and make sure that you rest when you are not driving.
  • Try not to drive when you would normally be asleep (early mornings and late nights).
  • Look out for these signs when you are driving both long and short trips:
    • you keep yawning
    • your reactions slow down
    • you feel stiff
    • your eyes feel scratchy and your eyelids heavy
    • you find you are daydreaming
    • you notice that your car is wandering over the centre line or on to the edge of the road
  • Don't drink and drive. Not only does alcohol severely impair your driving ability, it also acts as a depressant. Just one drink can induce fatigue.
  • Do not strain yourself by driving for hours on end. Stop frequently (at least every 200km), get some exercise and have a light snack. If you're too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  • Avoid driving at night as most people are programmed to sleep when it's dark, and sleep becomes irresistible late at night. Avoid driving during the "low" period between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Drink coffee or an energy drink to promote short-term alertness if needed, but remember that it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream.

(Sources: Arrive Alive)

(Health24.com, September 2007)

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