How To Avoid Drowsy Or Fatigued Driving

There is no question that our lives have become much busier as the years have passed. There was once a study outlining that we have more free time than we did 20 or so years ago. The only problem is that we often do so much within that free time that we rarely have a free moment to ourselves. This busy lifestyle can often lead to becoming drowsy or fatigued behind the wheel. There are a few things we can do to safely deal with these issues.

What Does It Do To Us

The first thing we need to understand is what does fatigued driving or drowsy driving do to us? When our brain is tired it reduces our ability to make proper decisions. This means its late sending messages to our eyes, our hands and our feet. Think of how you may act at home when you’re feeling very tired. You may not be thinking clearly on many mundane things and may forget to do the things you would typically find easy to do. Now, imagine how that may affect your ability to drive a vehicle. It really is too dangerous to even consider, yet many people ignore the symptoms. It’s important to know the facts about drowsy and fatigued driving, so here we go.

drowsy driving

Does This Happen Late At Night?

One of the myths associated with drowsy driving or fatigued driving is that it only happens late at night. It can happen at any time of day whenever you’re feeling tired. We should also be aware there is a difference between being drowsy and being fatigued. They are similar but different and therefore the solutions to each can also be different.

Solid Night’s Sleep

Becoming tired on a daily basis happens to everyone. By definition, being tired is an expected feeling after a number of activities or at the end of active day. Most likely you know why you’re feeling tired and a solid night’s sleep will often solve the problem. Fatigue is often a daily lack of energy for the most part. It really becomes a whole-body tiredness which is not usually relieved by sleep.

Let’s start with drowsy driving. You’re tired and need sleep. It may have been that you slept poorly over the last few days and you have had a long day. You get behind the wheel and begin to drive and after a while, your eyes get extremely tired. The bottom line is you need sleep. If you’re able to power nap, that’s a good thing. A 15 – 20 minute nap can make the world of a difference to help you wake up so you can safely continue along your commute. But if you’re not in a position to safely pull over yet, there are a few things you can do to help you stay awake and alert until you get a chance to safely pull over to rest.

Some drivers may drink strong coffee or other caffeine drink, blow cold air on their face, play loud music, have a sugary snack and try to have a diverse conversation to help keep them alert. It may work, but only for a very short period of time. This short period may be long enough to safely get to the side of the road or a parking lot in order to take that power nap.

Early Signs of Fatigue

Since fatigue is different, let’s look at how we can solve that problem before it causes a collision or a close call. To start with, we need to recognize the early signs of fatigue. While driving, some of the signs of driver fatigue would include; if you’re having a difficult time constantly keeping your eyes open, your energy level has dropped significantly, you tend to be yawning a great deal, you tend to be drifting in your lane often or you tend to have very little focus on the driving task, it’s time to change what you’re doing and do something different. As a driver, if we can recognize as many of these signs as possible before getting into the vehicle is of the utmost importance. However, if you happen to be driving for a greater length of time, these symptoms begin to appear while you’re already in motion. So what are the common things drivers do to help stay alert while driving?

Whether you’re suffering from fatigue or just too tired to drive, there are solutions that were already mentioned as a reactive solution. However, let’s look at a proactive way to avoid driving fatigued completely. The first and probably the best advice is to get plenty of rest before starting to drive. It doesn’t really matter if the drive is one hour of 15 minutes, fatigue while driving can happen quite easily.

Take Breaks

It would also be a good idea to schedule breaks every couple of hours on those long drives to allow you time to get out of the vehicle to stretch and perhaps take a washroom break. If you are making a longer drive, the best proactive solution is to share the driving with someone else. It would be a good idea to switch drivers before you get too tired. It would also be a good idea to avoid heavy meals right before driving. Light snacks are often better than a big meal, or just wait a half hour before making that drive. Speaking of food, apples are great to keep you alert and awake. And the last tip to help you stay awake and alert is to keep the temperature cool inside the vehicle. A very warm interior can help to cause drowsiness.

Can You Handle The Vehicle Just Fine?

Someone who has become a stubborn driver may say they can handle the vehicle just fine while they are fatigued or drowsy. Good drivers should realize they can’t handle it. Imagine having your eyes closed for just three seconds at 50 km/h. That typically means your vehicle has traveled roughly 40 metres. This means you could be passing through an intersection too and perhaps a stop sign or red light at the same time as someone else. Never a good option.