Driving fatigue is something that almost every driver has experienced. Especially on longer drives.
Most drivers don’t take it seriously but it’s one of the more common causes of accidents.
In this article, we’ll be showing what is driving fatigue, what are the most common symptoms and more importantly how to avoid or even prevent it.
Besides this, you have a video at the end of the article that you can also watch on our YouTube channel.
WHAT IS DRIVING FATIGUE?
So what is driving fatigue? A good and precise definition would be from Wikipedia:
„Sleep-deprived driving (commonly known as tired driving, drowsy driving, or fatigued driving) is the operation of a motor vehicle while being cognitively impaired by a lack of sleep.“
In other words, driving fatigue means driving a vehicle while you’re really tired, worn out, and worst of all, sleepy.
For more information from the Wikipedia article, click here.
SYMPTOMS OF DRIVING FATIGUE
Some of the most common symptoms of drivers fatigue would be:
Slower reaction to traffic
Due to fatigue, the reflexes become much slower drastically prolonging the time for reaction.
At first, it’s less noticeable but as it progresses it becomes worse.
Lack of attention
Along with slower reactions, comes the lack of attention. The usual caution and alertness needed when driving becomes blunt and fuzzy which has a major impact on decision-making while driving.
When fatigue starts to kick in, the vision starts to narrow. Hence the expression tunnel vision. It starts appearing at the later stages of driving fatigue, usually before falling asleep.
Dozing off for a couple of seconds
In the final stages, you start to doze off for a second or more and for a very brief moment actually fall asleep.
This is the big red alert for you to stop immediately and apply some of the tips shown in the next part of the article.
This is the final, most dangerous symptom and you should never let it get to this.
Needless to say that when a driver falls asleep, attention, reaction, and other key factors for driving are erased and gone.
The car essentially becomes a rogue projectile on the road massively endangering the person who fell asleep and other drivers.
In this case, an accident is almost imminent
These symptoms don’t have to appear in this order but it’s perhaps the most common scenario.
HOW TO AVOID DRIVING FATIGUE WHILE DRIVING?
1. GOOD SLEEP
This is, by far the best and most useful tip of all. Trust me, nothing can beat driving fatigue like a good sleep.
If you can, get some good and solid sleep especially if you’re going for a long drive.
This will not only keep you fresh and alert for the whole trip but will enable you to safely drive for a longer period of time.
2. MAKE FREQUENT STOPS
Making frequent stops is one more way to avoid or get rid of driving fatigue. This tip is especially good for longer trips or if the fatigue has already kicked in.
Make a stop, get out of the car, walk a bit, have a breath of fresh air, stretch out and you’ll see a big difference. You’ll be a new person.
3. WASH YOUR FACE WITH COLD WATER
While you’re making a stop, it would be good to wash your face, preferably with some cold water.
This will bring some instant freshness and help chase the fatigue away for some time.
4. OPEN THE WINDOW
After starting to drive again, try opening the window, preferably on the driver’s side.
You can open it all the way until the passenger cabin is properly ventilated and cooled down. Later just leave the window a bit open.
A breeze of fresh and cold air will help to stay awake.
5. TURN OFF THE HEATING
If possible turn off the cabin heating for some time. A warmed up passenger cabin and driver fatigue are a very dangerous combination and usually end up in dozing off and falling asleep.
So, turn off the heating and also turn on the ventilation so you get a cold breeze within the passenger cabin.
If you, for some reason have problems with cabin heating on your car, click here to see some useful information on that topic.
6. DRINK SOFT DRINKS
This is a tip from personal experience and should be used only if your health allows it.
Mainly because most soft drinks contain a lot of sugar which helps to instantly boost the energy level of your body and drive off fatigue for some time.
I would recommend the drink is cooled down and not to drink too much, a smaller full glass should be enough.
7. DRINK COFFE OR TEA
A perhaps better option is to drink some coffee or tea all depending on what you prefer.
Coffee is especially good as it contains caffeine that helps, in most cases, to stay awake. Again, from experience, a recommendation is that it’s served and consumed warm or almost hot and in short sips.
8. TURN ON SOME LOUD MUSIC
This is perhaps the least effective tip but worth the try especially if you’ve run out of options for driving off the fatigue.
It may be distracting and somewhat silly, but the loud music and singing along may bring more air into the lungs and body, make you aware and revitalize you to some extent.
Yes, it’s a long shot but have this in mind nevertheless.
9. WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
If you’ve sensed that driver fatigue is kicking in, best avoid consuming the so-called heavy foods.
The correlation between a good, caloric meal and the need to have a nap after that is well known.
So before and while driving, best avoid food like burgers, meat, pizza, or else that may be harder to digest, and try to go for foods like salads, fruits, various berries, or else.
Also, during driving, to avoid fatigue and dozing off, better do some snacking instead of stuffing yourself with food.
10. PULL OVER AND HAVE A NAP
The last and most useful tip, besides having a good night’s sleep, is to pull over and have a quick nap.
When you see that the tips mentioned above don’t help or even worse, that you start dozing off, pull over as soon as possible, make yourself comfortable, lock yourself in the car if needed and have a nap.
Trust me, when push comes to shove and you’re nearly falling asleep behind the steering wheel, a quick ten fifteen-minute nap is ten times more worthy than all of the other mentioned tips combined.
In most cases, you’ll be as good as new.
For the end of this article one more tip: know your capabilities and limitations.
Most of us drivers think that we can do that extra mile or drive for another hour just in order to get home or to the next rest area.
But this is where the trap is. Falling asleep behind the wheel while driving never happens willingly. In most cases, the driver doesn’t even notice the problem. The difference between fully awake and falling asleep can happen in just a matter of minutes.
So, noticing driving fatigue on time is very important. The moment you notice any of the symptoms, take action immediately and take the whole matter very seriously.
Again, If nothing else helps, then stop the car, get some good sleep, and then continue driving.
Always have in mind that there is nothing more important than safety and avoiding an accident.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
DRIVING FATIGUE-HOW TO PREVENT IT OR FIGHT AGAINST IT?