How many times have you felt tired behind the wheel and thought that opening the window or turning up the radio will help?
If you’re guilty of this, then you’re not the only one, but did you know that driver tiredness after just a few hours has the same effect as being over the drink-driving limit?
A study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, found that after just two hours behind the wheel, drivers were already making the same mistakes they would if they had 0.05 per cent blood alcohol content – more than half the UK legal drink drive limit. At three hours, their performance corresponded to 0.08 cent blood alcohol content – the national limit, and by four-and-a-half hours it was equivalent to 0.10 per cent.*
These results really put driver tiredness into perspective and when driving is your job you really do need to be aware of the risks of driving tired, especially when about 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles**.
So, what can you do to reduce the risks of becoming tired behind the wheel?
- Plan your journey to include a 15-minute break every two hours.
- Don’t start a long trip if you’re already tired.
- Be aware that the peak times for accidents are early hours and after lunch.
- Remember the risks if you have to get up unusually early to start a long drive.
- If you start to feel sleepy, find a safe place to stop – not the hard shoulder of a motorway. Drink two cups of coffee or a high-caffeine drink and have a rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow time for the caffeine to kick in.
- Remember, the only real cure for sleepiness is proper sleep. A caffeine drink or a nap is a short-term solution that will only allow you to keep driving for a short time.