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Warning Signs of Driver Fatigue

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Driver fatigue is becoming one of the main causes of vehicle incidents Ireland. Research indicates that one in every five crashes on Irish roads could be caused by driver fatigue. The Road Safety Authority (RSA) urge road users to be aware of the warning signs of driver fatigue, know the risks and keep yourself and your family safe.

 

Company car drivers are considered to be in one of the ‘at risk’ categories, due to the amount of time that these drivers typically spend on the road. Travelling long distances to appointments spread out over the day, covering a wide geographical area and a substantial workload will all increase the potential for driver tiredness. However, the impact of driving when fatigued cannot be underestimated. Tiredness related collisions are three times more likely to result in death or serious injury because of the high impact speed and lack of avoiding action. Such collisions typically occur when our body rhythms are at a natural low point during the early hours of the morning (for example between 2am and 6am) and between 3pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

 

There are a number of things that can be done to reduce driver fatigue levels. For example, if you are taking medication for hayfever, cold & flu symptoms, or other over-the-counter treatments, check that they are of the non-drowsy variety. Some of these such medications contain antihistamines which, whilst treating the required symptoms, can also cause sleepiness. Often, products which are packaged as sleep aids contain these same ingredients so ask the pharmacist if you are unsure and be sure to explain that you are a company car driver.

 

Another obvious consideration is the amount and quality of sleep that you get. If you begin the day tired, it is unlikely that you will feel anything other than tiredness throughout the working day. It is often difficult to make a lifestyle change to facilitate a better sleep pattern but it is also sometimes necessary. Things that can help aide a restful night’s sleep include:

 

  • Avoiding stimulants such as tea and coffee in the evenings
  • Avoiding food and alcohol just before bedtime
  • Ensuring that your bedroom is a restful place. Try to limit the amount of electronics in the room and don’t watch TV/use your phone or laptop just before trying to go to sleep.
  • Whilst exercising can be a great way to assist with sleep, try to avoid exercising just before bed.
  • Going to bed and getting up at the same time can help your body clock and assist in good quality and quantity of sleep.
  • Making a to-do-list can help if lack of sleep is caused by worry.

 

Planning and preparation can also reduce levels of fatigue. Be realistic about the journeys you have to do, plan them prior to setting off and allow time for sufficient breaks. If you have a long journey to complete, have several locations pinpointed for rest stops, where you can grab a coffee and take a break. Don’t ignore your need for a break just because you are ‘nearly there’. Many tiredness-related collisions happen within a few minutes of the driver’s destination, as the driver tends to relax and the body takes this as a signal for sleep. 

 

The above points are designed to prevent driver fatigue and tiredness but if you are feeling tired while driving, the following tips may help. Bear in mind that these are meant as emergency measures and should not be relied upon on an ongoing basis. 

 

  • Stop in a safe place when you feel tired. If you are on the motorway, take the next exit and find somewhere safe to stop. 
  • Drink at least one cup of strong coffee or other stimulant containing caffeine
  • Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to work so if possible, have a brief nap. Ensure that your vehicle is suitably locked and secured.

 

Click here for a link to some of the main motorway service and rest areas.

 

To find out more about driver safety, call us on 01-419-8373 or click here.

 

 

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