Many people think that driving tired means driving late at night. While this can be the case, there are a whole host of reasons you could feel tired when driving during the day. Perhaps you have had less sleep than usual, have worked a night shift, or just got back from a holiday in a different time zone. Driving is a mentally challenging activity, and it is important to remember that mental fatigue can be just as dangerous as physical fatigue, as your levels of concentration will be significantly reduced. Think carefully before getting behind the wheel after a particularly long day at work, and if you are travelling a long distance, try to find someone to share driving duties with, or consider an alternative form of transport.
Why is it dangerous to drive when tired?
Aside from the obvious worry of falling asleep behind the wheel, feeling drowsy will reduce both your concentration and reaction time. If you start to fall asleep behind the wheel, you could find yourself drifting into the opposing carriageway towards an oncoming vehicle, or off of the road altogether.
It is less easy to spot your diminishing concentration and reaction time, however the risk these pose is just as big. Your ability to spot hazards up ahead will fall, increasing your chance of being involved in a collision, or a near miss.
What should you do about it?
If you are feeling tired before you set foot in the car, the advice is simple. Don’t drive. There is always another way of getting to your destination, whether this is taking public transport, calling a taxi or asking a friend or relative for a lift.
If you start to feel tired when you are driving, pull over at the next opportunity. Measures such as putting on loud music or opening a window are only temporary, and should only be used until you can safely pull over to rest properly. Although they might help you stay awake, they will not make you any less tired. ROSPA recommend that you pull over, take a short nap of around 15 minutes, and drink at least 150mg of caffeine (approximately two cups of coffee) before continuing your journey.
If you are going on a long journey, plan rest stops before you leave home. If you are travelling a particularly long distance, this may include stopping overnight, so that you are fully refreshed for the second part of your trip.
Just remember, there is always an alternative. It might cost you a bit extra to go by taxi or public transport, but you can’t put a price on your life, nor that of other road users. Even if you find yourself involved in a very minor collision, it can affect the cost of car insurance in the future, so be sure to always put the safety of you and fellow drivers on the road first.