How to avoid driver fatigue
Driver fatigue can impact everyone behind a wheel, and is dangerous regardless of whether you’re steering an 18-wheeler or a hatchback.
Learn the signs of driver fatigue and some easy steps to help prevent it. And make sure you’re insured in case of an accident by exploring your car insurance options.
Why driving tired is a bad idea
Driving at the best of times can be chaotic. But because many of us do this almost every day, our brains can easily think we’re just as capable of driving well when we’re fatigued. This can – and unfortunately does – result in microsleeping while driving.
We can’t control microsleeping. It can last from half a second to ten and can easily lead to a road accident. If you’re fatigued, the safest option is to avoid driving.
How sleep apnoea affects car insurance
Medical conditions like sleep apnoea can make drivers more prone to fatigue. Because of this, your road authority may require you to inform them as it could impact your ability to drive safely1.
Failing to comply with conditions of your licence could affect your car insurance claim.
Common signs of fatigue while driving
While microsleeps are often the cause of fatigue-related accidents, they can be hard to recognise, and occur too late to prevent. If you notice any of the following signs of driver fatigue, pull over and rest:
- Constant yawning.
- Sore or heavy eyes.
- Slow eye movement and blurred vision.
- Drifting in or across lanes.
- Changing your speed a lot, or having difficulty maintaining a constant speed.
- Delayed or slower reactions.
- Difficulty remembering the last few kilometres.
Common reasons for driver fatigue
The causes of driver fatigue can go back weeks. Things like starting a new job that disrupts our sleeping patterns, becoming a parent or stressing about an upcoming exam can all lead to fatigue when driving and result in potential accidents.
Some of the most common reasons for driver fatigue include:
- Mental or physical effort prior to driving, such as a long day at work.
- Not taking regular breaks while driving long distances.
- 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.
How to manage fatigue and prevent microsleep while driving
Knowing what causes driver fatigue is one of the best ways to prevent sleeping behind the wheel. Some other things you can do to reduce the chances of driver fatigue include:
- Avoid driving after a long day of work, if you can.
- Get a good night’s sleep before driving.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol prior to driving.
- Take rest breaks and exercise every two hours.
- Share the driving.
- Don’t drive at times when you would normally be asleep.
- Allow extra time to avoid additional stress.
- Slow down while driving at night, especially when driving through the country as wildlife and other hazards are harder to spot in the dark.
It’s also definitely worth calling out that caffeine, energy drinks or loud music will not always work to help fight fatigue. Sleep or rest is often the only solution.
Make a claim
- Car accident and not at fault – what’s next?
- What kind of car insurance do I need?
- What to do when you make a claim
1 Sleep Disorders and Road Safety | vicroads.com.au
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