More than 20% of all road fatalities are suspected to be caused by drowsy driving. Most of the fatigue-related accidents will happen during sleeping hours and the more serious the accident the more likely one or both of the drivers were fatigued. Fatigue has also been linked to around a third of single-vehicle accidents in rural areas.
Most people assume that driver fatigue is something that long-distance drivers suffer from, but short-distance drivers can feel this as well. Most people do not become tired from driving but are already tired when they get into the car from long work hours, lack of sleep or physically demanding roles. Your body is not able to fight the need to sleep and chemicals in the brain will build up until you fall asleep at the wheel. If you are driving an HGV this can be very bad news.
Get Enough Sleep
“Sleep is the most obvious way to avoid driver fatigue. If you do not get enough sleep, you will feel tired throughout the day. This is why you should look at getting a decent amount of sleep every night,” advises a Class 2 training advisor in Hampshire.
The amount of sleep that you need will depend on your body. Some people only need 5 hours to feel refreshed and alert while other people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. You need to find out how much sleep you need to function at your best and get this every night. A full night’s sleep will recharge the brain and body ensuring that you are alert and fresh on the road.
Have a Healthy Diet
Healthy eating will play a role in healthy sleeping. The problem is that the diet of a driver on the road will never be the healthiest out there. However, when you ensure that you are eating healthily and staying hydrated, you will find that your quality of sleep improves.
Eating healthy options when on the road will also reduce feelings of bloating and tiredness after. When you do this, you will feel alert, energised and ready to take on the day. A healthy diet will be full of vegetables, high-fibre foods and water.
Stay In a Pattern
One of the most common causes of fatigue in professional drivers is the fact that they drive when they would usually be asleep. Every person will have a deeply ingrained sleeping pattern and it can be very hard to adjust this. If you find that you struggle with fatigue during night driving, you should look at switching to daytime driving only.
If you are used to driving at night, you might find that early morning and evening driving is much harder. In these cases, you should look at changing to night driving. The point is to find a driving pattern that works with your natural circadian rhythms. This will ensure that you are able to function properly and will not feel tired when you need to drive.
Get a Check Up
If you are constantly struggling with fatigue at the wheel and have tried other steps to overcome this, it may be time to head to the doctor. There are a number of medical conditions which are known to cause fatigue and you will need to get them under control before they affect your driving. If you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea, this will affect your sleeping pattern and cause fatigue during the day.
There are also certain medications which cause fatigue or you could be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. It is important to remember that you will not be able to fight sleep. Getting medical help before this interferes with your driving is vital.