The Hidden Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Nowadays, road signs emblazoned with the words ‘Tiredness can kill, Take a break’ are plastered across roads throughout the UK. These signs are there to remind us of the cause of a quarter of all crashes on the roads: driving while tired. With road conditions set to become more challenging during the winter months, it is increasingly important for us to avoid drowsy driving. This blog covers all you need to know about driving tired and how to combat it.

Why we should avoid driving tired

As drivers we tend to underestimate the dangers of driving tired and overestimate our ability to stay awake and remain alert. This tendency has had disastrous repercussions. A prime example of this was published by the BBC last year where sleeping driver, Adam Docherty, caused a fatal crash, claiming that ‘had he felt tired then he would not have gone on the journey’. And herein lies the problem: some of us are simply unaware of the tell-tale signs of drowsy driving.

The signs that you’re driving tired

Are you safe to drive? Before setting off on a long journey, test your tired self.

If you are mid-journey, ask yourself:

  1. Are you yawning repeatedly or finding it difficult to keep your head from slouching?
  1. Do you keep rubbing your eyes and/or find it hard to keep your eyes open and focused on the road?
  1. Are you swerving, tailgating, missing your exit, drifting out of your lane or showing any other signs of erratic driving behaviour?
  1. Do you feel irritable and/or restless?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time to pull over, turn the engine off and rest.

What can increase your risk of driving tired?

There are numerous factors which contribute to driver tiredness: the time of day, length of journey, gender, age, sleeping disorders, medication, stress and lack of/disturbed sleep. However, the road safety charity, Brake, states that the majority of culprits tend to be male drivers under the age of thirty travelling home after a long day of work.

How to deal with drowsy driving

You may not feel tired now, but sleepiness can creep up on you so it is always a smart idea to have some sleep-combatting tactics in your arsenal before embarking on a long journey.

  1. Make sure you take regular rests/stops every 2 hours.
  2. Consider swapping drivers halfway through a long drive.
  3. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep the night before a long journey.
  4. Drink coffee or another caffeinated drink to give you a boost.
  5. Avoid medications which could make you feel sleepy.
  6. Try to schedule long drives during periods of daylight.

Remember: the best cure for driving tired is to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep. How much sleep we really need varies from person to person. However, the average adult should aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

So, next time you set off, remember: driving drowsy can not only cause you to lose your licence but more importantly, you are endangering others, risking your life and the well-being of your loved ones.