Asleep at the wheel – coping with tiredness behind the wheel


Driving fatigue has been found to be a bigger danger on the road than drink driving  so as the evenings get brighter and thoughts turn to Summer and long journeys  we have some tips for coping with tiredness behind the wheel writes Geraldine Herbert


Tiredness and Driving – the Risks
If you drive while tired not only are do you risk actually falling asleep at the wheel but also  of being much slower to react and respond to your surroundings as you would normally.

Before you set off
Do not drive a long distance after a heavy meal and do not drink alcohol, even under the limit.

On the Road
Never start a journey if you already feel sleepy and no matter how refreshed you are when you  begin your journey you should never drive more than eight hours in total in a day.

Three hours in one stretch is the maximum you really should spend behind a wheel but for the very old, or an infrequent driver, the limit drops to two hours.

Some hours are more dangerous than others
Driving between midnight-6am carries the highest risk as the brain is at its least alert and  another danger time is 2pm-4pm because of the afternoon slump in concentration levels so if at all possible try to avoid long trips at these times.

Respond to Warning signs
Stretching at the wheel is a danger sign and trying to fight off sleep by winding down window or turning up the radio will do little to keep you awake.

It is useful to know that you will typically start to feel sleepy around 40 minutes before profound sleepiness takes them so after initially feeling sleepy you have about 20 minutes or so of relatively safe driving before you must pull over.

Take a break
Drinking coffee, cola or energy drinks will boost you in the short term but they may make you feel even more fatigued when the effect wears off. Ideally, if you possible get out in the fresh air and take a brisk walk however when it comes to combating fatigue as effectively as possible, nothing can beat a good sleep.

Geraldine Herbert

23rd March, 2018


Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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