More than a fifth of the fatal accidents that occur on the road are believed to be caused by people driving while they are too drowsy. Typically, these accidents occur during the middle of the night when most people are used to being asleep. Accidents involving driver fatigue usually tend to be quite severe. In rural areas, the statistics are even worse, with close to a third of the crashes that involve one vehicle being caused by fatigue.
There is a common misconception that fatigue only affects drivers who travel long distances. In fact, however, accidents can occur even if you are only driving for a short period of time. Driving doesn’t generally cause people to get tired. Instead, they tend to fall asleep because their bodies are already exhausted from not getting enough sleep, working too many hours, or because they suffer from an untreated medical condition. Sleep is essential. If you aren’t getting enough, your body will force you to sleep to get the rest you need. If you are behind the wheel when that happens, it can be devastating.
Here is a guide from the HgvTrainingCentre.co.uk about how to stay alert and keep fatigue at bay.
Check Your Sleep Schedule
One of the most obvious causes of fatigue is not getting an adequate amount of sleep. The amount of sleep required to feel rested can vary from one person to another. Certain people can get by on as little as five hours of sleep, while other people need as much as eight or nine hours of sleep to feel rested. Listen to your body and figure out the optimum amount of sleep. Once you know how much sleep you need, take steps to make sure that you get at least that much each night. When you are sleeping well at night, you are far less likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
Focus On Nutrition
Eating nutritious food can help you sleep better at night. Unfortunately, long-distance drivers tend to eat a lot of food that is bad for them. Pay attention to your diet, focusing on making healthy choices. Be sure that you drink plenty of water, as well, so that your body stays hydrated. In most cases, improving your diet will have the added benefit of helping you sleep better at night. It will also give you more energy during the day. Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats to give your energy levels a boost.
Stick To A Schedule
Drivers often become sleepy or overly tired when they are driving during the time that they would normally be asleep. The human body tends to fall into well-defined sleeping patterns. Once your pattern is in place, it can be difficult to break out of it. For example, if you typically drive during the day, you may find it difficult to stay awake when driving at night. Alternatively, if you are used to working through the night, you may become drowsy if you try to drive during the day.
Make adjustments to your schedule as needed so that you can drive during the times when you are the most awake. Listen to your body. If you pay attention, you can quickly figure out what your natural sleep pattern is so that you can plan your schedule accordingly. This can help you avoid fatigue while you are on the road.
Visit Your Doctor
Fatigue can be a sign of an underlying medical condition – particularly if it is severe or persistent. Consider making an appointment with your doctor to get checked out. Problems like sleep apnoea, for instance, can keep you awake at night, leaving you feeling exhausted the following day. Some medications also have drowsiness as a side effect. There are even health conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome that can eat away at your energy levels, making it difficult to stay awake. All of these problems may be able to be controlled with the help of a medical professional.