PF Olsen Aus logo.jpg

Driver fatigue

With longer work schedules, a 24-hour workplace, and shift work, driver fatigue is a major risk for all workplaces. Drowsy drivers are involved in many fatal and non-fatal traffic incidents, frequently taking occupants of other vehicles with them.
The statistics are staggering with Victoria having a 60% increase in road trauma incidents this year alone. The more time you spend on the road, the greater the odds that you'll be involved in such an incident. Driving in general involves a heavy responsibility, so make sure you get enough rest to drive alert.
Here are some tips for staying awake and aware when you drive for your job, to and from work or on your own time:

  • Get enough sleep before you drive. (For most people, eight hours of sleep every 24 hours is about right, but everyone is different).
  • If you have a choice, don't drive during your normal sleeping hours. (If you are accustomed to being asleep at 2 a.m. you could easily doze off behind the wheel at that hour).
  • If you start to get sleepy, pull off the road in a safe place and take a power nap.
  • Plan longer trips with overnight accommodations or rest areas in mind. (Planning these stops in advance keeps you from driving around tired looking for a place to spend the night).
  • Eat lightly and often, rather than larger meals. Meat and potatoes, dessert included, can make you sleepy. Take the healthy options.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages and other drugs. (Even ordinary medications such as cold and cough remedies can contain ingredients to make you drowsy).
  • Keep your vehicle interior fairly cool with plenty of fresh air.
  • Shift position frequently instead of remaining static for long periods of time.
  • Take breaks at least every two hours.
  • Walk around in the fresh air for a while instead of just walking from your vehicle to a warm coffee shop. (A brisk walk can do wonders to get your circulation going again to keep you alert).
  • Switch with your co-driver every couple of hours. You can also ask your co-driver to stay awake to keep you company and keep an extra set of eyes on the road.
  • If you are alone, use your radio or smart device for company.
  • Keep your eyes moving. Look at the road and traffic far ahead, check your mirrors often and scan the sides of the road.
  • Check your dash panel often, making sure your speed is within the speed limits and not becoming erratic because of fatigue or inattention.
  • Consider turning your instrument lights down low to keep your eyes adjusted to the darkness outside.

Remember the only substitute for sleep is sleep. Short-term measures may help you stay alert for a while, but eventually you will need to sleep. Preferably not when you are behind the wheel.