Driver Fatigue: Defend Yourself From This Silent Killer


Whether you’ve just bought a new car and you want to tame your beast with a long interstate journey across some scenic country roads, or whether you’ve dedicated yourself to driving for a living, it’s important to guard against driver fatigue. Most serious drivers have a well deserved confidence in their own abilities but this may cause them to become cavalier to the very real dangers of driving while tired. It’s not uncommon to tell ourselves we’ll stop at the next service stop only to push onward when we get there because we’re making such good time. Even if you feel perfectly alert, your senses can deceive you, and you could leave yourself vulnerable to a serious incident.


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The scope of the problem

Driver fatigue deserves to be taken seriously, especially if you drive a heavy goods vehicle for a living. These trucks weigh around 25 times more than a typical passenger car, causing catastrophic damage to the driver, rig and other road users in the case of an incident. The US Department of Transportation estimates that almost 4,000 deaths are caused by truck accidents every year, with driver fatigue often cited as a leading cause. Unless you want to have to answer some difficult questions from a truck accident attorney, you must take steps to combat fatigue when on the road. Fortunately this is pretty easily done.

Stay hydrated

Okay, you may need to take more rest stops if you’re drinking a lot of water but the benefits outweigh this pretty minor inconvenience. Drinking lots of water (not coffee, not energy drinks, water) is a vital way of preventing not only the inevitable fatigue of long distance driving but the tension headaches and muscle cramps that can arise from long periods spent on the road. Drinking lots of water will also keep you focused and alert and better equipped to deal with problems as and when they occur.

Eat healthily

Yeah, so the deck is stacked pretty heavily against you on this one but service stops are getting better and better at stocking up on healthy foods that will keep you alert and ready while also ensuring that all those hours sitting at the wheel don’t impact negatively on your waistline.

Try not to get lured in by the array of candy bars, soda and donuts usually on offer. These may give you a quicky sugar rush, but after a while your energy levels will come crashing down, you’ll be sluggish and unresponsive at the wheel. Instead opt for whole nuts, lean protein sources and fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your energy levels stable.

Cut back on caffeine

A cup of joe has seen many a driver through a long night behind the wheel but when you’re lurching sluggishly from one latte to the next, you’re setting yourself up for a series of highs and crashes. Caffeine might make you feel more awake and alert but it’s a deceptive illusion. Caffeine metabolizes pretty quickly, and blocks your receptors for adenosine (an important neurotransmitter). As the adenosine builds up, your fatigue increases making you more and more sluggish between coffees. Caffeine also gives you an extra shot of adrenaline with your espresso, which can increase your blood pressure, and cause anxiety that cause you to drive erratically.

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