Summer is the time of the year associated with barbecues, family reunions and road trips. After all, why not enjoy the warmer weather after a decidedly cold and dismal winter? This is also one of the main reasons why a growing number of individuals are taking advantage of the flexible rental services offered at Caversham Vehicle Hire. Although there is no doubt that a road trip can prove to be a great deal of fun, we also need to keep in mind that there are some hidden dangers. One particular concern is known as driver fatigue. Let’s learn a bit more about this risk.
The Hidden Dangers of Driving Whilst Tired
You might be surprised to learn that government studies found that one out of every six accidents in the United Kingdom were at least partially impacted by falling asleep while driving (1). This is largely due to the fact that many of these involve high-speed crashes (the driver does not have time to react to the situation). Although some believe that long-haul drivers are more likely to suffer from this type of fatigue, the fact of the matter is that anyone can succumb to such situations; placing everyone on the motorway at risk. Some of the main indicators of fatigue include:
- Micro-sleeping or quickly “nodding off”.
- A feeling of watery or heavy eyes.
- The inability to maintain concentration.
- Stiffness and cramps.
The dangers associated with this condition should already be obvious. Slower reaction times signify that the driver is more likely to become involved in a potentially serious accident. Drivers are also at a higher risk of skidding or sliding during poor weather conditions. Furthermore (and perhaps most importantly), he or she is not able to make sound decisions when they are needed the most (2).
Top Tips to Avoid Driver Fatigue
We should first mention that spotting the early warning signs is the best way to avoid this situation. Still, there are a handful of expert suggestions to always keep in mind. Obtaining between seven and eight hours of sleep before a journey is a great way to make sure that you stay alert behind the wheel. It is highly recommended that you take one 15-minute break during every two-hour driving session. If you feel that you need a bit of extra sleep during the break, it should also be limited to 15 minutes. Energy drinks with caffeine are recommended and these are actually more effective than coffee. However, never replace the restorative powers of sleep with caffeine alone.
If you are travelling with family or friends, it is a good idea to create a schedule before you depart. Each individual can drive for a few hours before switching positions. This is a great way to avoid driving whilst tired and in the event that one person becomes fatigued, another passenger can simply take over.
Prevention is the Best Course
Falling asleep while driving can quickly turn any summer road trip into a surreal nightmare. Not only are you placing your own life at risk, but the general public is in just as much danger. Following the steps mentioned above is the best way to remain alert and responsive when on the open road. For more driving-related tips as well as to appreciate our selection of rental vehicles, please contact Caversham Vehicle Hire before heading out.
2.Jackson ML, Croft RJ, Kennedy GA, Owens K, Howard ME. Cognitive components of simulated driving performance: sleep loss effects and predictors. Accid Anal Prev.2012;50:438.