5 Tips to Reducing Driver Fatigue
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), driver fatigue is a primary cause of serious transportation accidents throughout the United States, with Chairman Marion Blakey stating “Many times and throughout all modes of transportation, our investigations have found that lost sleep equals lost lives.” Blakey noted that proper sleep is especially critical on our nation’s highways. “Each year, highway crashes cause the most transportation-related fatalities,” said Blakey. “Of these crashes, recent research shows 100,000 of them involved “drowsy driving” and resulted in 1,500 fatalities.”
Driving tired has been shown to be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. With drowsy driving estimated to be a factor in 20 percent of fatal crashes, getting adequate sleep is essential to being alert enough to drive safely. Missing just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours a night doubles a driver’s crash risk, according to a study released by AAA in 2016, while missing two or three hours increases the risk by 400 percent. Another study from the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center found that consuming a single beer can affect someone who slept only four hours the same way drinking six beers affects a well-rested person. With these sobering statistics in mind, we would like to offer our readers some useful tips to reduce driver fatigue, and perhaps save a life.
- Get enough sleep. This is the obvious, number one tip to reduce driver fatigue, but it cannot be overstated. Our bodies need sleep on a daily basis, and our internal clocks will not allow us to stay awake indefinitely. You may be able to go without food or water for extended periods of time, but at some point you will fall asleep, and you don’t want it to be behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Especially if you are planning a trip, make sure you are well rested before you sit down in the driver’s seat. Experts recommend a minimum of seven hours, with eight to nine hours preferred.
- Be aware of sleep “zones”. Just as there are different time zones, there are times of the day when our bodies want to sleep. As you might guess, between midnight and 8:00 a.m. is the time when our bodies naturally want to rest, due to darkness. However, there is also a mid-day “sleep zone” that occurs between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m., when even a well-rested driver can become sleepy. If you can avoid driving during these times, do so. If not, make sure you get plenty of rest before you embark on your trip.
- Drive with someone. When you are by yourself with no one to talk to, it can be difficult to stay alert. With at least one other capable driver along for the ride, you can share the driving responsibilities if you become fatigued. Assuming they stay awake with you, your passenger may also notice signs of fatigue in you before you do, which can be invaluable. If you must drive alone, in addition to getting adequate sleep beforehand, you can use strategies such as having someone on the phone you can talk to using the speaker option. This can keep your mind alert by engaging in conversation.
- Set stop alerts/alarms on your phone. If you are driving alone and have no one to talk to on the phone, try setting a series of alarms on your phone to remind you to stop at a roadside rest for coffee, a snack break, or short nap to refresh your mind and body.
- Avoid medication that causes drowsiness. Many medications cause drowsiness, and can adversely affect even a driver who is well rested. This is not limited to prescription medications, but includes many medications available over the counter, so be sure to check the label for warnings prior to taking any medication.
Of course, if your trip calls for a bus or coach rental, you can hand over the driving responsibility to a professional, and relax. If you are looking for the perfect bus to transport you and your group to your destination, call Davey Coach today at (800) 873-1856, and let us take the wheel and help you find the right size and type of bus for your organization.