How to fight tiredness behind the wheel

A tired driver

Tiredness is a factor in up to 20 percent of all road collisions, says GEM Motoring Assist, and up to 25 percent of serious and fatal accidents on the road.

“A fatigue-related crash is around 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury,” said Neil Worth, GEM road safety officer.

A driver who has fallen asleep at the wheel will be unable to reduce speed or change direction to avoid a collision. The consequences can be devastating.”

Warning signs that you’re driving tired 

A tired driver

It’s easy to realise that you’re in no state to be driving. The warning signs include fidgeting, consistent yawning and eye-rubbing. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s time for a coffee, a stretch and some fresh air.

If you must get back on the road, wind down the window, make sure your car interior isn’t too warm and have a sing-along to some music.

That latter point is no joke. Boredom can make you tired, and music can both wake you up and improve your mood.

fighting tiredness behind the wheel

Beyond that can be a point of no return, in the most serious sense. Wandering thoughts, swaying left and right and slowing down without realising are signs you’re on your way to sleep.

At points, you’ll find you can’t remember anything from the past few minutes. A patchy memory is an indicator that you’re all but asleep already. If you get to this stage – and you definitely shouldn’t – pull over at your very earliest convenience. You should not be on the road.

Tips to avoid the risk of a fatigue-related crash

  • Get a good night’s sleep – this pretty much goes without saying.
  • Avoid driving late into the night, especially after extended periods at the wheel. As a general rule, don’t drive when you should be asleep.
  • Avoid heavy meals, especially at lunchtime. Some of us get very drowsy after a hearty lunch.
  • Know when it’s time to take a break. As above, it’s not difficult to realise that you shouldn’t keep pressing on.