You would do well to get enough sleep before you set out on a long drive over the school holidays over the coming week (1-9 September).
If you are sleepy or fatigued while driving, you are likely to be less alert, find it difficult to focus, take longer to process information and have poor judgment, all of which can affect your ability to drive safely.
The warning signs of driver fatigue include:
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Difficulty remembering the distance driven
- Missing your exit
- Drifting from your lane
If you experience any of these warning signs, stop somewhere safe and rest for 15 to 20 minutes, or change drivers. “Simply turning up the radio or opening the window are not effective ways to keep you alert,” advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA. “Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue.”
Driver fatigue is a growing concern worldwide and is a factor in up to 30 per cent of vehicle crashes, according to research.
In a Singapore study on taxi drivers, researchers from the National University of Singapore found that driver fatigue was associated with poor quality of sleep, consuming three or more caffeinated drinks daily, and driving more than 10 hours a day.
4 factors that promote driver fatigue:
- Lack of sleep because of poor sleep habits, shift work: If your sleep debt accumulates you may experience microsleep, a temporary episode of drowsiness, while driving.
- Excessive caffeine: Consuming more than 200mg of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) can lead to long periods of wakefulness which can cause fatigue.
- Obesity: Obesity is commonly associated with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a sleep disorder that may lead to excessive daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
- Medication that makes you sleepy: Some antihistamines, painkillers, and anti-depressants can make you sleepy and tired. Check with your doctor if you are taking these and have to drive.