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How to avoid driver fatigue


Some of our most important community members are at the greatest risk of road accidents due to driver fatigue — like those transporting goods across the country. It’s important to know how to recognise and prevent fatigue when driving on holidays, but if you work in a fleet, there may be added pressures that can heighten your risk.

Learn the signs of driver fatigue and some easy steps that can help prevent it. Ensure you have cover in case of an accident by exploring your car insurance options below.

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Why driving tired is a bad idea

Our brain’s ability to get us from A to B in a car is nothing short of a miracle. We navigate an unpredictable environment, with countless factors considered every second to safely reach our destinations. But this ability means we can easily think we’re more capable of driving than we really are when fatigued. The result is called microsleeping.

We can’t control microsleeping when driving. It can last from a split second to ten seconds, and it can easily lead to a road accident. 

Common signs of fatigue while driving

Microsleeps can be the hardest to recognise and can be one of the last things you experience prior to a road accident. If you sense any of the below signs of driver fatigue, pull over and rest before risking a microsleep.

  • Constant yawning
  • Sore or heavy eyes
  • Slow eye movement and blurred vision
  • Drifting in/across lanes
  • Changing your speed a lot
  • Delayed/slower reactions
  • Difficulty remembering the last few kilometres

Common reasons for driver fatigue

The causes that lead to driver fatigue can often go back weeks. Taking on a new job that disrupts your sleeping patterns, being a new parent, being stressed about an upcoming exam – all of these can lead to fatigue while driving and potential accidents. Some of the most common reasons for driver fatigue can include the following: 

  • Mental or physical effort prior to driving, such as a long day at work.
  • Not taking regular breaks while driving long distance.
  • External factors like heat or road vibration.
  • Disruptions to your circadian rhythm — that is, not sleeping when you’re used to sleeping.
  • Long periods without sleep or with poor quality sleep. 

Driver fatigue management: How to prevent accidents

The best thing you can do to prevent sleeping behind the wheel is to know what causes it. Knowing that changes in your lifestyle or an irregular event might affect your ability to drive will leave you better informed about how easy it is to fall asleep when driving.  

Some other things you can do to reduce the chances of driver fatigue include the following: 

  • Avoid driving after a long day of work and avoid driving in hours when usually sleeping. 
  • Get a good sleep before driving and avoid driving if you feel tired. 
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol prior to driving. 
  • Take rest breaks with exercise after every two hours of driving. 
  • Share the driving. 

Need to make a claim?

We’ve made it easy. Prepare what you need based on our claims checklist and our award-winning online claims process will guide you through, step by step. 

  • Claim online 24/7 and come back to a saved claim.
  • Enjoy a simple guided claims process.
  • Book directly into a repairer, for eligible policies.
  • Manage photos or documents easily.
  • Track or update your claim at any time.

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as AAMI. Read the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination before buying this insurance. This information has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, and is of a general nature only, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it and make your own enquiries.