Tired driver behind the wheel of a car

Why driving fatigue is so dangerous

14 February 2020

For many businesses in the UK, driving is an essential part of operations. However, research from RoSPA found 1 in 5 road traffic accidents and 25% of fatal accidents are linked to driver fatigue.

Furthermore, 40% of all fatigue-related accidents involved commercial vehicles. Take a look below on how you can minimise your risk of accidents or injury from driving fatigue.

Fit to drive

Before your journey, make a judgement on whether or not you are in a fit state to get behind the wheel of your vehicle.

If you are already tired before you set off, it is only likely to get worse throughout the course of your drive. Make sure that you have had a good night’s sleep before you start your journey so that you feel rested before you go.

Pick your time

Try to avoid driving on long journeys between midnight and 6am, as your body may be used to being asleep at these times, and you will naturally be tired.

If you are driving for business, it may be safer to drive to your destination a day earlier and book a hotel to get a good sleep in before your drive.

Know the rules

If you are feeling tired when you are driving and feel the need to pull over to have a quick sleep, you need to know where you can and can’t do so.

The highway code recommends taking a 15 minute break for every two hours that you are driving, but if you need to pull over for a quick nap, you need to know where it is suitable to do so.  Whilst it isn’t an offence to sleep in your vehicle, it is more the location of where you decide to stop that can be problematic. For example, you wouldn’t normally stop on a hard shoulder or on double yellow lines, so neither of these places are suitable to stop for a sleep.

If you are driving on the motorway, it is best to wait for a service station to find somewhere to have a quick nap. However, some service stations have limits on how long you can stay, so make sure you check this before you doze off.

Drive share

If timing is important, have two drivers available to drive for a long trip if possible, so that if one feels as though they are getting tired, the other can take over, allowing drivers to have a rest.

This will minimise the amount of the time that the vehicle will be stopped for, allowing driving jobs to be completed quicker, whilst ensuring the safety of your drivers. You may find that because jobs can be completed quicker, you may be able to take on more work.

Whilst it is dangerous to drive when fatigued, you may need to carry on driving until you can find a safe place to pull over for a nap or refreshments before finally reaching your destination. Take a look at some of these tips to keep yourself alert.

Avoid heavy food

Heavy, stodgy foods like breads or potato products are likely to make you feel more tired as your body tries to digest them.

If you are feeling peckish, snack on cheese or dark chocolate, both of which have been found to perk you up if you need a snack.

Turn off the heating

A warm vehicle can make you feel very tired if you are travelling on a long trip. This is likely to be because of the dehydration that you will experience when you are too hot.

You should make sure that when you are travelling long distance that you keep a bottle of water with you to keep yourself hydrated and alert, making regular stops in the services to keep your bottle topped up.

Turn up the radio

Listening to something lively on the radio could help whilst on long journeys.

You might need to put the talk show or podcast on hold and listen to something that keeps your brain stimulated and your heart rate up.

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