However, falling asleep is an extreme stage of fatigue. You can be fatigued to the point of having your driving impaired well before you ‘nod off’ at the wheel.
Fatigue kills. In 2001 driver fatigue was identified as a contributing factor in 42 fatal crashes and 498 injury crashes. This represents approximately 11 percent of fatal crashes and 6 percent of injury crashes.
How to stay alert:
- Get plenty of sleep before a long drive
- Take regular breaks - once every two hours and when you get sleepy
- If you need to nap, don't set yourself a distant goal, pull over and rest for up to 40 minutes
- Use caffeine strategically to increase your alertness
- Eat sensibly, avoiding large meals
- Share the driving
- Play music or wind down the window to help keep you alert
- Don't drink and drive
- Avoid driving, or take extra care driving between midnight and 6am since the human body is most susceptible to fatigue during these hours
- Do not speed