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Driving tired: The equivalent of dangerous and reckless driving

Semi truck driving along desert highway

July 15, 2019. Did you know that recent stats produced by Transport Canada about fatigued drivers? They found that fatigue-impaired driving is involved in 20% of fatal collisions. They also noted that 60% of Canadian drivers drive occasionally when fatigued, and 15% admitted to actually falling asleep while driving in the last year. Driver fatigue is a serious problem

Being awake for 18 hours is like having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. Like driving drunk, driving while fatigued makes you unable to pay attention, lowers reaction time, and negatively affects decision-making. Because tired drivers can fall asleep when the car is moving fast, they can be less obvious on the road than drunk drivers, who tend to drive slowly.

So, what can you do to stay alert on the road?

When not to drive

The most obvious solution is to avoid driving if you’re tired. Everyone’s needs for rest are different, and while one person might be ok on 5 hours of sleep, another may need their full 8 hours. Before you drive, ask yourself whether you got enough sleep and feel well rested, how far you need to drive, and if you’re confident you can get there without feeling fatigued.

Dealing with fatigue on the road

In a perfect world, we would all get enough sleep and be well rested every day. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case and chances are you will find yourself feeling tired when you’re driving at some point in your life. If you find yourself wishing you had gulped a double shot of espresso before you left, or better yet, were at home in bed, watch out for these signs of fatigue and take action before you are unable to drive safely.

  • Difficulty paying attention to the road and remembering the last few kilometers
  • Poor decision-making ability and slow reaction time
  • Heavy eyelids, yawning and head-bobbing
  • Trouble staying in your lane
  • Slowing down unintentionally
  • Braking too late

If you get any of these symptoms, it’s not safe for you to keep driving, so find a safe are to pull over and take a rest.