Falling asleep at the wheel may sound impossible for people who do not have much experience driving. The feeling of fatigue causes the driver to feel drowsy which ultimately affects their attention on the road.
This results in a slow reaction time that makes it hard to control the vehicle, which increases the chances of a crash. Here at Drive4Life Academy, we are dedicated to giving you information that will help keep you safe on the road.
What exactly causes fatigue?
Here are things that could make you fall asleep at the wheel:
Lack of sleep
Unfortunately, sometimes lack of sleep may be unavoidable due to various disruptions of life. For example, if there is a newborn baby, you may struggle with getting enough sleep for the first couple of months, and this sudden change in your sleep pattern may result in fatigue.
Your body may naturally start feeling tired if you are still awake between 2 am and 6 am. In the afternoon at around 2 pm to 4pm, your level of concentration may diminish especially after an extensive busy morning, causing you to feel tired.
Driving for long periods
Driving for more than two hours non-stop lowers the level of concentration in your mind, which makes you prone to a delayed response to hazardous encounters on the road. We recommend that you take short breaks after every two hours.
Other things that may contribute to fatigue when driving include:
- Intentional change of sleeping patterns (due to work shifts)
- Vehicle engineering (modern automatic vehicles are very comfortable and relaxing)
Legislation on fatigue
Although proving that an accident occurred because of fatigue can be a hard task, there are police investigations and penalties for death caused by fatigue driving.
Anyone found guilty of causing an accident because of fatigue may be charged with death by dangerous driving (if the driving conditions are perceived to be dangerous), or death by careless driving ( a minor charge compared to dangerous driving).
The maximum penalty for death caused by dangerous driving is 14 years and 5 years for careless driving.
How to avoid fatigue when driving
- Drinking caffeinated drinks – energy drinks or coffee will keep you awake and alert while on the road
- Breaks within the journey- people planning to travel long distances should relax after every two hours of continuous driving.
- Having enough rest- if you are about to embark on a long journey driving, ensure you have enough rest beforehand.