Early starts, long hours in the office and late nights spent socialising are all things that can cause us to feel sleepy behind the wheel. But drowsy driving is extremely dangerous, to you, your passengers and all other road users.
Its not easy to tell when you’re too tired to drive. Here are some signs that its time to pull over:
- Difficulty focusing, frequently blinking, or heavy eyelids.
- Daydreaming, wandering and disconnected thoughts.
- Trouble keeping your head up.
- Drifting from lane, tailgating or hitting the rumble strip.
- Feeling restless or irritable.
How does lack of sleep affect our driving?
Lack of sleep can make you less alert and affect your coordination, judgment, and reaction time while driving. This is known as cognitive impairment. Studies have shown that going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol.
What are the risks?
The risk of a crash is 3 times greater if you have had less than 5 hours sleep, this is compared to a normal 7-8 hours.
Surprisingly, driving whilst tired is more common than one would think. What would seem as something that is easily avoidable by following a regular pattern of sleep and ensuring your energy levels are stable, driving whilst tired happens more often than imagined. For example, if you are looking forward to an event or a special occasion and are unable to sleep through the night, you may well find yourself sleep deprived in the morning. This poses potential risks to your driving skills, including excessive speeding, or worse, nodding off at the wheel.
Most accidents occur between the hours of 2-6am, even amongst those who are sober. At this time of the day, most people are relaxed and a bit more carefree with their driving as the roads are generally quieter. This is when drivers make errors and crash as their focus is not on other vehicles around them.
How should I plan for driving a long distance?
Even experienced HGV drivers are prevented from driving more than 9 hours in a day or working for over 13 hours in a day. Most car drivers are nowhere near as used to driving for this long.
- Don’t drive for more than 8 hours in a day
- Take regular fifteen-minute breaks in journeys over three hours
- Aim to stop every two hours or so, especially if you’re not used to driving long distances
- Plan journeys so that you can take breaks, allowing for an overnight stay if necessary
- Don’t start a long journey if you’re tired
We are also at that time of year where the clocks will be changing on Sunday 29th March 2020. The daylight-saving time change will force most of us to spring forward and advance our clocks on hour. This effectively moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, giving us those long summer nights.
But waking up Monday morning may not be so easy, having lost an hour of precious sleep and perhaps driving to work in the dark with an extra jolt of java. There may be some tired people hitting the roads that Monday morning. And make sure you have your car insurance, you can get your cheap quote here.