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How to beat driver fatigue on long journeys

According to the Department of Transport's THINK! campaign, nearly a fifth of accidents on major roads are sleep-related.

A sleepy driver.

Crashes involving drivers falling asleep tend to be high-speed crashes, as drivers don't brake before crashing, resulting in a high risk of death or serious injury.

But it's not just falling asleep at the wheel that's a risk. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drink driving as motorists share many of the same impairments, such as difficulty focusing and slowed reaction time.

So, how can you beat driving tired?

In a study by road safety charity Brake and Cambridge Weight Plan, one in eight drivers admitted to nodding off at the wheel for a period of 2-30 seconds. That equates to 4 million people falling asleep while driving. To make sure you beat driver fatigue:

  • Make sure you have plenty of rest before you set off, especially if you're driving early in the morning. It's recommended drivers have at least seven to eight hours of sleep. While this advice might seem obvious, research revealed driving on less than five hours can result in drivers having a one in 10 chance of staying awake on a long journey.
  • You should plan your journey before you set off to allow enough time to take breaks of at least 15 minutes every two hours or as soon as you start to feel tired or lose concentration.
  • Find a safe place to stop if you start to feel tired on your drive. Research found having a 15-minute nap is more effective at reducing driver fatigue than getting out and stretching your legs.
  • For a short-term solution, have a caffeinated drink. Allow the caffeine time to kick in by drinking it before taking a 15-minute nap.

Also remember the time of day can increase your risk of driving tired as your body clock reaches a natural dip.


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