4 tips for coping with driver fatigue

Posted by: Cal on 16/04/2014

Category: General

One of the most important factors of driving is to be alert on the roads at all times. Although this may sound easy, in reality, it's easy to find your eyes slowly closing, and your head drooping as you sit in horrendously early morning traffic or set out on a trip late at night.

Dozing off while driving is actually extremely dangerous. Driver fatigue is believed to be responsible for up to 30 per cent of all road deaths in Australia, according to the Office of Road Safety.

So while you may think shutting your eyes for a few seconds in a moment of drowsiness won't have any adverse effect - think again! However, there are a few measures you can take to ensure you reduce your risk of experiencing driver fatigue on the road.

Avoid it altogether

The Government of South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure states the only cure for fatigue is sleep itself. For this reason, the best way to ensure you eliminate the risk is to delay a long trip until you've had a rest.

Schedule at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep before you need to hit the road, and attempt to schedule driving time for when you would usually be awake. You should also try to limit driving trips to 10 hours or less where possible. In addition, you should avoid taking any medication that may make you tired.

Take a rest stop

If you do feel like you're getting a little too sleepy while on the road, it's best to pull over for a rest stop. There are plenty of dedicated rest stops dotted across Australia, where you can pull over, take a break and perhaps even have a cup of tea or coffee.

Even if you do not feel particularly tired, it's important you still take a break. The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure suggest drivers take 15 minutes break for every two hours of driving, and focus on getting some fresh air and moving about.

Bring a friend and some snacks

If there's someone to keep you in check, you're far less likely to drift off while behind the wheel. A passenger can keep an eye on you and provide friendly chatter to keep you interacting and alert. Food may also help you feel more alert - keep some snacks in the car, such as nuts and seeds, and ensure you eat nutritious meals at the time you usually eat. However, be aware fatty foods such as fast food may make you feel more drowsy.

Switch drivers

When you feel like you really need a little shuteye, how about asking someone else to take the wheel? That way, you can have a little snooze while someone who feels more fresh continues your journey.