Practice Vigilance Against Driver Fatigue

Practice Vigilance Against Driver Fatigue

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 900 fatalities (2.6 percent of all fatalities) in 2014 involved driver fatigue as a principal cause. The Massachusetts Special Commission on Drowsy Driving, using a different methodology, estimates that more than 8,000 die each year due to this dangerous behavior. People tend to fall asleep more on high-speed and long rural highways and interstates. Drivers should be aware of this ever-present risk. Thus, the following tips may help you stay awake behind the wheel.

  • The obvious cause of fatigue is lack of sleep. You should begin a long trip early in the day, after 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
  • If possible, avoid driving long distances alone. Passengers can take turns driving and keep the conversation flowing, which can help keep you awake.
  • Abstain from drinking any alcohol before driving. Drinking compounds with sleepiness to increase the chances of a fatigue-related accident.
  • Long drives at night are a recipe for driver fatigue. The glare of lights, both on the dashboard and on the road, increases the danger of highway hypnosis. This term refers to driving in a trance-like state while gazing at a fixed point, an unsafe situation.
  • Adjust your vehicle's environment in order to stay alert. Avoid using cruise control for long stretches of time. This helps keep your body involved in the driving.
  • Take frequent breaks. Schedule regular stops every 100 miles or every 2 hours, including stops at a rest area or gas station. Getting out of the car and walking a short distance can help fight fatigue.
  • If anti-fatigue measures do not work, there is only one solution. Find a safe, guarded rest stop or motel and sleep.
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