We associate the term ‘driving under the influence’ with drink or drug driving but driving under the influence of fatigue can pose just as many threats to safe driving. Driving while tired impairs your judgement of time and space, affects your co-ordination, slows your reaction speed, and can cause you to nod off behind the wheel. It’s estimated that driver fatigue is contributes to as many as one in five driver deaths in Ireland every year.1
To combat driver fatigue, here are seven tips to help you prevent falling asleep behind the wheel.
1. Don’t drive when you’re tired
If you’re exhausted from a long day or didn’t get enough sleep the night before, don’t drive. Take a bus or a taxi, or call a friend or family member instead. It might seem easier to just try and ward off the tiredness and drive, but it’s simply not worth the risk.
2. Get a good night's rest
The first port of call when avoiding driver fatigue is to get enough sleep the night before. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to function at their best. If you don’t get enough sleep at night, you increase your chances of nodding off behind the wheel.
3. Stop and take a break
Don’t attempt to drive with heavy eyelids – think about how we don’t ever ‘remember’ falling asleep each night; it happens that suddenly. Don’t take that risk while driving.
If you find yourself dozing off or struggling to keep your eyes open, get your hands on a cup of coffee, find a safe place to park and take a 15-minute power nap. The caffeine should start to take effect once you wake up. The Road Safety Authority recommends two cups of coffee or a 150g caffeine drink.
After you’ve done this, get some fresh air and stretch your body with a short walk to get rid of any drowsiness following your nap.
4. Take regular breaks or share the driving
Avoid driving for long periods of time without breaks. If you can, take a 15-minute break every two hours or as close to that as possible. If you’re travelling with someone who is a named driver on your car insurance, split the driving with them if it’s a long journey.
You can add a driver to your policy using MyAviva. You’ll need your email address and your Policy Number to register; your policy number is located on the left hand side of your policy document. Once you’re logged in, simply follow the steps.
5. Don’t drive at times when you’d usually be sleeping
Wherever possible, don’t start trips at times when you’d usually be asleep. Wait until morning, when you’re fully rested and your body clock expects you to be awake.
If you do need to drive at night, follow our safety guidelines for driving in the dark.
6. Avoid big meals
We all know that sleepy, warm feeling we get after eating a really big meal. You don’t want this feeling while driving! Try to eat light before driving and when you stop for breaks throughout a long journey.
7. Use the air-con
Cold air can help to keep you alert if you’re feeling tired. Alternatively, keep your window rolled down to keep fresh air circulating in your car.
We encourage our customers, where possible, to make use of our online options to access any help you need. If you have a query you can reach us via our contact forms. MyAviva is an online self-service portal available to all our home and car insurance customers.