Fatigue can creep up on us in many ways. If it happens to find you behind the wheel, it's important to know what to do to keep everyone on the road safe.
Driving drowsy reduces your attentiveness and increases the time it takes to react to potential hazards. It adds up to a major impairment that puts you and those around you at risk of a collision.
Research shows that people who only sleep 6.5 hours a night are twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel as those who get 8 hours of rest.
The consequences of drowsy driving can be tragic. On average in Saskatchewan, more than 145 people are injured and 7 are killed each year in crashes involving driver fatigue.
Symptoms of driver fatigue
Recognizing the symptoms of a fatigued driver can help prevent these collisions. One of the first signs of drowsiness is a tendency to stare at the road in front of you rather than scanning for hazards. Other red flags include:
- trouble keeping your head up or eyes open
- forgetting the last few kilometers you've driven
- not noticing vehicles until they pass
- drifting out of your lane
- difficulty maintaining your speed
People prone to driver fatigue
Certain people are particularly vulnerable to driver fatigue, including:
- shift workers
- university and college students
- workers in the transport industry
- long-distance travellers
- people with sleep disorders
- those who use alcohol or medications
Dealing with driver fatigue
If you find yourself getting fatigued behind the wheel:
- It's safest to get off the road.
- Admit that you're tired and find a rest area to have a quick nap.
- If other people are in the vehicle, switch drivers so you can sleep in the passenger seat.
These solutions are the most effective ways to stay safe on the road. Quick-fix solutions like coffee, loud music and open windows may perk you up temporarily but in the end they still leave you dangerously fatigued.
Of course, drowsy driving can be avoided altogether if you get plenty of rest. Hit the sack before hitting the road and you'll help ensure that everyone arrives at their destinations safely.