Coping with Tiredness While Driving
If you start feeling drowsy during your journey and notice some or any of the symptoms above, it's crucial to take immediate action to combat fatigue and ensure your safety. Beware of the myths about ways to keep yourself awake while driving! Rolling down a window, turning up the radio or chewing gum are not effective and long-lasting solutions to fight driver fatigue.
Take a Break
If possible, stop at a shop or service station, if not, pull into an off-road layby. Do not stop in the hard shoulder of a motorway as you are at risk from passing traffic. Instead, leave the motorway at the next exit and find a safe place to pull in. This is one of the many tips we shared previously when discussing how to drive on the motorway.
A cup of coffee or caffeinated beverage can provide a short-term energy boost. However, be mindful that the effects are temporary, and it's important not to rely solely on caffeine for long drives.
Engage in Physical Activity
Stretching or doing light exercises at rest stops can help increase blood flow and alleviate feelings of drowsiness. Also, the fresh air is another way to help keep yourself awake, so if you’re not getting out of the car, roll down the windows (unless taking a power nap, as covered below)
Drinking water can help combat dehydration, which can contribute to fatigue. Keep a bottle of water within reach during your drive.
Take a Power Nap
If possible, and you have found a safe spot to pull over. Lock your car doors and take a 15-20 minute nap to allow the caffeine to kick in and take the edge off your fatigue. A power nap like this can provide temporary alertness, avoid sleeping any longer than this as you will go into a deep sleep cycle and may wake feeling even more groggy.
Once you have completed these steps and if you feel more alert, continue driving. If not, rest for longer.
Utilising Fatigue Monitoring Systems
Advancements in technology have led to the development of fatigue monitoring systems designed to detect signs of driver fatigue. The phrase ‘driver drowsiness detection’ is the general term for systems that monitor driver attention. These systems use various technologies such as facial recognition, eye tracking, and steering behaviour analysis to monitor driver alertness.
They provide audio and visual alerts when fatigue is detected, helping drivers recognise their drowsy driving state and take appropriate action. Many manufacturers have their own systems, such as Mercedes and their ‘Attention Assist’, Land Rover’s ‘Driver Condition Monitor’ or Volvo’s ‘Driver Alert’ which have been around for over fifteen years, but are constantly improving.
Additionally, there are mobile applications available that can monitor your driving behaviour and alert you if signs of fatigue are detected. These apps utilise smartphone sensors to analyse your movements and provide timely warnings.
There are other standalone devices that drivers can place in their vehicle themselves, which help to reduce the dangers associated with fatigue while driving. Some devices continuously calculate a driver’s fatigue levels using over 25 different parameters. Exploring and utilising these technological aids can contribute to enhanced safety on the road.
Importance of Passengers in Preventing Driver Fatigue
Passengers play a crucial role in preventing driver fatigue by actively engaging in shared driving responsibilities. Passengers can take turns driving, allowing the driver to rest and recharge. Conversation and interactive co-driving can also help keep the driver alert and focused. Encouraging open communication and creating an engaging atmosphere in the vehicle can significantly contribute to combating fatigue while driving. Lively conversation can be great but should never reach overly boisterous levels where it becomes a distraction.
Tip: Read our article on how to avoid distracted driving
Preparing for a Long Drive
Before embarking on a long journey, adequate rest and sleep are essential. Ensure you have a full night's sleep before hitting the road, as sleep deprivation exacerbates fatigue while driving. Plan your travel to include regular breaks, ideally at least 10 minutes for every two hours or every 150 kilometres. Pack plenty of water and healthy road trip snacks. Utilise rest areas to eat your snacks and to stretch your legs to refresh your mind and body.
If possible, plan for overnight stays during long trips to prioritise your well-being and reduce the risk of drowsiness on the road. Undertaking a long journey with children brings with it its own challenges, follow our tips to ensure a successful trip with the kids. On a separate but equally as important note, you should give your car a run through before leaving to make sure everything is working as it should. If you need help with this you can use our basic car maintenance checklist.
Driving fatigue poses a serious threat to road safety, and it is essential to address this issue to protect yourself and others. By recognising the signs of fatigue, preparing adequately for long drives, and employing coping mechanisms, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with tiredness on the road. Embracing technological advancements, such as fatigue monitoring systems, and involving passengers in shared driving responsibilities further enhance driver safety.
Remember, staying awake and alert behind the wheel is crucial for a safe journey. At AIG, we emphasise the importance of responsible driving practices and looking after our drivers. For more information on car insurance and how we can support your safety on the road, visit our car insurance page.