Fatigue is tiredness, weariness or exhaustion. You can be fatigued enough for it to impair your driving long before you ‘nod off’ at the wheel – which is an extreme form of fatigue.
Who is affected by fatigue?
Everyone is likely to experience fatigue to some degree while driving, but fatigue is more likely for:
- young people
- shift workers
- people with sleep disorders.
How fatigue affects you
- Slower reactions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor risk judgment
- Excessive speed changes
- Centre-line drift
Fatigue warning signs
If you’re driving and notice any of the following warning signs, it’s important that you pull over and take a break. The best option is to set a timer or alarm and have a 15 minute nap before driving further.
- Blinking frequently
- Breaking too late
- Forgetting last kilometers
Tips on avoiding fatigue
- Prioritise sleep – make sure you get enough sleep regularly
- Snack lightly – choose light, fresh food. Avoid fatty, sugary or carbohydrate-filled options
- Take a break – take a break from driving at least every two hours
- Power nap – nap for no more than 20 minutes for best effect
- Drive at natural times – drive during times that you’re usually awake
- Stay hydrated – drinking water helps keep you alert
- Check your medication – be sure they won’t affect your alertness on the road
- Share the driving – swap drivers if possible
- Avoid alcohol – any alcohol at all will increase your risk, so avoid it