A fifth of fatalities on main roads are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. In the last three years (1/4/2010 – 31/3/2013) 55 collisions were reported in Central Bedfordshire and Luton where fatigue was a contributory factor.
Studies have shown that drivers do not fall asleep at the wheel without warning, but have often been fighting off drowsiness by opening a window or turning up a radio beforehand. This actually does little to prevent falling asleep. However, there are some simple measures that you can take to prevent falling asleep at the wheel.
Before you start your journey
Plan your journey to include a 15 minute break for every two hours of driving or share the driving.
Make sure you are fit to drive: have had a good night’s sleep before setting off on a long journey.
Be aware that even a small amount of alcohol, medicines and drugs van make you drowsy.
Your natural alertness is at its lowest between midnight and 6am and 2pm and 4pm so try to avoid driving on long journeys at this time.
During the journey
Take 15 minute breaks for every two hours of driving.
Share the driving if possible
If you start to feel sleepy find a safe place to stop as soon as possible
If you can’t have a proper sleep then an effective emergency countermeasure to help you get to a safe place where you can have a proper sleep is the combination of tow cups of strong coffee or high caffeine drink and a 20 minute nap. It takes 20 minutes for the caffeine to take effect.
Don’t leave it too late
If you are having difficulty keeping your eyes open, your head is nodding and/or your vehicle is drifting out of lane you are already displaying symptoms of microsleeps and you should have already stopped. Stop when you start to repeatedly yawn.