According to statistics, drowsiness when driving is considered to be the primary cause of more than 20% of road fatalities. The majority of fatigue-related accidents happen during normal sleeping hours with the more severe accidents being a result of individuals driving when feeling fatigued. Evidence has also found that approximately one-third of all single-vehicle crashes in rural areas are due to fatigue. While many people do not think fatigue is a problem for short-distance drivers, it is as significant for short-distance drivers as it is for long-distance drivers.
It is not common for people to become fatigued from driving and those who show fatigue will typically already experience tiredness when they get behind the wheel. The tiredness could be caused by shift work, long hours, sleep apnoea, a lack of sleep or physically demanding roles. Unfortunately, a body cannot fight the need for sleep and chemicals will accumulate in the brain until they reach a tipping point causing sleep. If you are driving an HGV at this tipping point, this can be highly detrimental. Read these top tips from EasyasHGV to find out how to stay alert.
1. Getting Enough Sleep
Potentially the most obvious tip to handling driver fatigue is to get more sleep. If you do not get enough sleep, you will continue to feel tired throughout the day; therefore, it is important that you have a decent amount of rest each night. However, each person requires a different amount of sleep each night to feel refreshed and alert in the morning. Some people may need only five hours of sleep, whereas others may require nine hours of sleep. It is vital that you discover how much sleep you need to function effectively and ensure you get that amount each night. A full night’s rest will recharge your brain and allow you to be alert when travelling on the road.
2. Eating a Healthy Diet
Healthy eating has a great deal to do with health sleeping patterns; however, the diet of a driver on the road is not always the healthiest option available. If you remain hydrated and eat a healthy diet, you will notice the quality of your sleep patterns will improve. You will also notice that eating healthier foods during the day will reduce feelings of tiredness and bloating afterwards. Instead of feeling tired, you will feel alert, rejuvenated and prepared to face the day. So, be sure to eat a good diet filled with high-fibre foods, vegetables and drink lots of water to remove feelings of fatigue.
3. Remaining in a Pattern
One of the most common causes of fatigue in long-distance drivers is driving during typical sleeping hours. Humans tend to have deeply ingrained sleeping patterns and it can be difficult to modify these hours. If you have problems with night shifts, then it may be worthwhile switching to day shifts only. Similarly, if you are used to driving during the night and find early morning or evening travel a problem, then it may be better to opt for night driving only. The point we are trying to make is that you need to remain in a sleep pattern routine that works for your circadian rhythms allowing you to function effectively without feelings of tiredness.
4. Having a Check Up
If you struggle with feelings of chronic fatigue when driving, despite efforts to dispel this sensation, it may be worthwhile to visit a doctor. There are several medical conditions that can result in fatigue and it is important to have them treated to avoid any danger when driving long-distance. For example, the sleep disorder known as sleep apnoea can interfere with sleep patterns and cause fatigue during the day. It is important to note that you cannot fight sleep, so if you feel as if you are struggling it may be worthwhile to contact a professional.