24 December 2010

Asleep behind the wheel?

If you're hitting the road this weekend, you need to know how to avoid driver fatigue. Get some tips right here.


Driver fatigue is often a factor in fatal collisions. This applies especially to people (truck and bus drivers and holiday-makers) driving long distances.

According to the Arrive Alive campaign, there are some ways to avoid driver fatigue:

  • For long trips, plan in advance so you know where you are going to take a break.
  • Take a break at least every two hours.
  • Plan to stay somewhere overnight if you are going on a long journey.
  • Share the driving - and make sure that you rest when you are not driving.
  • Try not to drive when you would normally be asleep (early mornings and late nights).
  • Look out for these signs when you are driving both long and short trips:
    • you keep yawning
    • your reactions slow down
    • you feel stiff
    • your eyes feel scratchy and your eyelids heavy
    • you find you are daydreaming
    • you notice that your car is wandering over the centre line or on to the edge of the road
  • Don't drink and drive. Not only does alcohol severely impair your driving ability, it also acts as a depressant. Just one drink can induce fatigue.
  • Do not strain yourself by driving for hours on end. Stop frequently (at least every 200km), get some exercise and have a light snack. If you're too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  • Avoid driving at night as most people are programmed to sleep when it's dark, and sleep becomes irresistible late at night. Avoid driving during the "low" period between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Drink coffee or an energy drink to promote short-term alertness if needed, but remember that it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream.

(Sources: Arrive Alive)

(, September 2007)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Mental health & your work »

How open are you about mental illness in the workplace?

Mental health in the workplace – what you can do to help

If you know that one of your colleagues suffers from a mental illness, would you be able to help them at work? Maligay Govender offers some helpful mental health "first aid" tips.

Sleep & You »

Sleep vs. no sleep Diagnosis of insomnia

6 things that are sabotaging your sleep

Kick these shut-eye killers to the kerb and make your whole life better – overnight.