Driving Tired? 7 Tips for Avoiding Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue is responsible for too many deaths on Australian roads. As a Transport and Logistics Service, we are very aware of the dangers to our drivers and others on the road and take careful measures to ensure the safe operation of our business.
The key signs of driver fatigue include:
• Excessive Yawning
• Heavy or itchy eyes
• Slower reaction times
• You feel uncomfortable and your body has a sense of stiffness to it
• You’re finding it harder to keep your vehicle centred
When you start to notice these signs, don’t ignore them! The most obvious choice is for you to rest. Find a place nearby to stay for the night and sleep. Getting somewhere fast is not worth your life or someone else’s.
Along with this solution, there are also things you can either do or avoid to reduce your likelihood of becoming fatigued.
1. Avoid sedative products
Alcohol, obviously, but even one beer has a sedative effect shortly after consumption.
Large meals, carbohydrate and protein rich meals in particular reduce alertness during the ingestion phase.
Medication, many cold and flu medication, pain killers and anti-allergy medicines can cause drowsiness and are best avoided prior to long haul drives.
2. Plan ahead
Plan your driving trip so that you know where you’ll be going each day, how far you’ll be traveling, and where you’ll stop off for a break or overnight sleep. By organising your trip, you can also account for any contingencies and put together a plan to work around them.
We give our drivers the Basic Fatigue Planner (PDF) which has more details on planning your trip and avoiding fatigue.
3. Stay hydrated
When you become dehydrated, you start to suffer headaches and an increase in fatigue levels, so make sure you take plenty of water with you and drink it regularly to ensure you’re appropriately hydrated. If you feel thirsty, you are already well on you way to being fatigued.
4. Take in the sights
Stop off occasionally to stretch your legs and take in the sights. Not only does it allow you to pull yourself out of the monotony of driving, but it also helps you exercise other parts of your body that have relaxed a little too much and being able to take in some fresh air helps wake you up.
5. Use stimuli to avoid driver fatigue
If you have someone with you in the car, make sure that you converse with them. It doesn’t have to be the whole time, but interacting with someone else helps keep you stimulated and aware. If you’re travelling alone, then try to listen to engaging radio or music.
Of course, always remember to not rely on stimuli too much, as this can be distracting.
6. Share the driving
Although this one only applies if you have someone in the car with you, it’s nevertheless always a good way of dealing with driver fatigue. If you start to feel tired, get your passenger to take over while you have a rest and continue the rotation as necessary.
7. Take breaks
We mentioned this in point 4, but breaks are important. Whether you eat, sleep, or run around a bit. Ensure that you are taking breaks every 2 hours at the very least to give yourself some time to recover from the fatigue that constant driving causes.
At Cannon Logistics, we are serious about driver fatigue. In July 2020, we commenced a trial of ‘Guardian Seeing Machines’ in eight of our trucks in conjunction with the QTA and Griffith University as a part of our ‘Eyes On Fatigue’ project.