Sherwood Park, Alta. – Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, and now with the legalization of Marijuana, driving high. However, not many people know about the dangers of fatigued driving and that it can be just as fatal. Like alcohol, fatigue impairment slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases the risk of being involved in a collision.
Lack of sleep is one of the most common causes of fatigued driving. Other contributing factors include driving alone, driving long distances without rest breaks and driving through the night or when the driver normally sleeps. Taking medications that have the side effects of drowsiness and consumption of alcohol also contributes to driver fatigue.
People who are most at risk for fatigued driving are shift workers (irregular work schedules), commercial drivers, people with untreated sleep disorders, teenagers and young adults. Recognizing the symptoms of fatigued driving can help prevent these collisions.
Interesting fact – Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%
Some believe that drinking coffee, chewing gum, or rolling down the window will help reduce drowsiness however this is inaccurate.
Warning signs of driver fatigue
- Constant yawning.
- Inability to keep your eyes focused.
- The urge to rest your head on something.
- Having wandering, disconnected thoughts.
- Driving and not remembering how much time/distance has passed.
- Drifting between lanes, tailgating, or missing traffic signs.
- Not being able to keep a consistent speed.
How to reduce driver fatigue
- Before heading off on a long trip be sure to get a good night sleep.
- Don't travel for more than eight to ten hours a day.
- Take regular breaks – at least every two hours.
- During your breaks walk around and stretch to get some fresh air.
- If you have a passenger that is eligible to drive, share the driving wherever possible.
- Don't drink alcohol before your trip.
- Avoid working all day and then driving all night. Stay the night rather than driving right through.
- Stop if you become sleepy while on the road.
- Travelling with an awake and alert passenger to talk to will help the driver stay awake and can also let the driver know when he/she is showing signs of fatigue.
“Drivers who are fatigued are more likely to be involved in a collision and put other road users are risk” says Cst. Chantelle Kelly of the Strathcona County RCMP, “It Impacts driver’s attention and alertness and may lead to driver error.”