Have you ever been so tired when driving that you have difficulty focusing on the road?
Driver fatigue is not a rare phenomenon. Approximately 20% of fatal accidents on Canadian roads are caused by driver fatigue.1 It is therefore important to remember a few tips to reduce the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
Learn to identify signs of fatigue
When driving, pay attention to the signs of fatigue:
- Reduced concentration
- Itchy eyes
- Difficulty driving in a straight course
- Difficulty sitting in one position
Most accidents caused by fatigue occur in the early afternoon and at night, which are the body’s natural rest periods.
Did you know?
Driving while fatigued is similar to driving under the influence. In both cases, you will be less vigilant and have slower reflexes. One study shows that fatigue due to being awake for 17 to 19 consecutive hours is equal to a blood alcohol level of 50 mg/100 ml (0.05) in how it affects a person’s abilities.2
What should you do when you feel tired?
The only way to combat fatigue at the wheel is to stop and rest. Despite popular belief, coffee or fresh air will not make you feel less tired. To reduce the risk of an accident, stop at a rest area and rest for 15 minutes. It has been proven that the optimal rest time is 15-20 minutes. However, if you have passengers, you can ask one of them to take over driving so you can rest.
Advice for avoiding fatigue
There is no secret: the best way to combat fatigue is to get a good night’s sleep. To reduce the risk of fatigue, make sure you are well rested before taking off on a long journey and take regular breaks, approximately every two hours. If possible, avoid driving during times you would usually be resting, like in the evening or at night.
1 Source: Transports Canada
2 Source : Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec