Recent studies indicate that fatigue is a major contributing factor of serious accidents, with about 20% of fatal road accidents attributable to driver fatigue. In 2013, drowsy driving was responsible for an estimated 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths globally. These statistics are not surprising when you consider that according to a recent report, 60% of adults admitted to driving while tired, while 37% admitted to have fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Drowsy or fatigued driving is dangerous as it slows reaction times, impairs information processing and reduces vigilance. While driving while drowsy is not illegal, it can have devastating consequences for yourself and other road users.

There are several reasons why people fall sleep behind the wheel:

  • Genuine fatigue from a strenuous activity
  • Untreated or unrecognised sleeping disorders
  • Deprived sleep for prolonged hours
  • Alcohol abuse – even though having a beer or two probably won’t make you drunk, it will definitely make you feel sleepy– you might have a higher concentration of receptors than normal, or you might have less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol
  • You may be using medication that makes you drowsy
  • Exhaustion from driving for long hours without rest
  • Dietary deficiencies, depression, diabetes, anaemia, or thyroid problems

An easy way to avoid drowsiness is to “power nap” for 30 minutes to an hour before embarking on a long trip, or in between the trip. However, before taking this nap, make sure that you are parked in a safe location.

Additionally, there are also numerous ways that you can prevent fatigue while driving:

  • Get a lot of rest before going on a long trip – a sufficient night’s sleep is all that you require
  • Make sure that you stay hydrated
  • Ask other passengers to help you stay focused and alert
  • Take turns behind the wheel with a co-driver if possible
  • Stop for regular breaks, at least after every two hours
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol before your trip
  • Take a break after 8 hours of driving a day

So, remember to take all of this advice into account and if you feel a little drowsy, don’t risk getting behind the wheel; it’s not worth it

Stay safe on the road!