Most drivers have experienced that ‘heavy eyelid’ feeling at some point.
Drowsiness is an unmistakeable warning sign that you are tired and should pull over for a break and a cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, all too many people ignore the signs and driver tiredness is thought to be a factor in as many as 20% of accidents on major roads and responsible for around 300 deaths every year*.
Ignore the signs of tiredness and you risk falling asleep at the wheel and killing someone in an accident – especially as tiredness is usually more of a problem on fast, monotonous roads like motorways.
The good news is that tiredness comes with plenty of warning signs – so you should be able to stop before you become dangerous to other people and yourself. Here’s a few tips for preventing tiredness and dealing with it when it happens:
- Make sure you have a supply of fresh air in your car – either through the vents or through a small opening in a window or sunroof
- Keep it cool in your car, not warm and stuffy
- Plan 15 minute breaks into your journey every 2 hours or so
- If you do feel tired, stop, have a coffee and then close your eyes for 15 minutes while the caffeine kicks in (don’t sleep for more than 15 minutes as you will then begin to enter deep sleep)
- If you will be starting very early in the morning, try to get a good rest the night before and avoid driving during the small hours if you can – your body naturally wants to sleep at this time
- Between 2pm and 5pm in the afternoon is also a high risk time – people often have a natural energy dip during this time, so beware of your own condition and watch out for other drivers behaving erratically
Finally, don’t stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway. It’s not allowed except for emergencies and is extremely dangerous. Pull off at the next junction or services if you need a break.