Have you ever been so tired when driving that you have difficulty focusing on the road?
Driver fatigue is not uncommon. In fact, according to the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), close to 20% of fatal car accidents in Canada are caused by fatigue.
Learn to identify signs of fatigue
According to the SAAQ, driver fatigue causes a yearly average of 79 deaths and 7,841 injuries. Most accidents caused by fatigue occur in the early afternoon and at night, which are the body’s natural rest periods.
In order to avoid falling asleep and to remain alert at the wheel, it is important to be aware of the early symptoms of fatigue. Examples of these include:
- Reduced concentration
- Itchy eyes
- Difficulty keeping your vehicle on a straight course
- Difficulty finding a comfortable position
If you exhibit any of these signs of fatigue, it is recommended that you not drive and rest instead.
What should you do when you feel tired?
The best way to stay alert when driving is to stop your vehicle when safe to do so and rest. Despite popular belief, neither coffee nor fresh air will wake you up.
To reduce the risk of an accident, stop where it is safe to do so, like at a rest area, and rest for 20 to 30 minutes. A nap cannot replace a full-night’s sleep, but in cases of extreme fatigue, it will help you safely get back on the road for two or three more hours.
If you have passengers, ask one of them to drive while you rest.
How to avoid fatigue:
In order to reduce the risks of fatigue, make sure you are well rested before starting a long journey and take regular breaks, approximately every two hours.
If possible, avoid driving at night or at times you would normally be sleeping. Also, eat light meals and stay hydrated. This will allow you to safely take the wheel.
Some people are more at risk of falling asleep while driving, including:
- Heavy-duty vehicle drivers
- Drivers under 30 and over 55
- Shift workers and night workers
- People experiencing sleep disorders
- People with health problems that cause fatigue
If you count yourself among one of these groups, it is important to be especially careful when driving.
Driver fatigue and driving while impaired
The consumption of alcohol, medications, drugs or a combination thereof considerably increases the risk of being in a fatal car accident.
It also multiplies the effects of fatigue, and in that way makes driving even more dangerous.
It cannot be reiterated enough: driving while impaired is a criminal offence.
Did you know?
Driving while fatigued is similar to driving under the influence. In both cases, you are less alert and your reflexes are slower. 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 terms of how it affects one’s abilities.
Now you know the importance of not taking the wheel when you feel fatigue setting in. It’s better to leave later and be well rested.
Before taking to the road, make sure you have an auto insurance policy that’s right for your needs. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.