Driving and fatigue are a dangerous mix, increasing your chances of having a crash. That’s because fatigue slows down your reflexes, and affects your ability to concentrate and make good decisions. Driver fatigue has similar effects on your skills as driving after drinking alcohol.
Get plenty of sleep before you drive and plan where you’re going to have a break. You are more likely to be fatigued if you’re driving when you would normally be asleep. Plan to share the driving if you can and allow time for stops every two hours.
Download ACC4640 Calculate your driver fatigue rating (PDF 548K) to see if you are affected by fatigue.
Yawning, slow reactions, tired/sore eyes and unintended changes to speed are signs of driver fatigue.
If you can’t swap drivers, stop and have a 20 minute ‘power nap’ to boost energy and concentration levels. Eat fruit and healthy snacks, and avoid the foods that contribute to fatigue such as fatty and sugary foods. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and alert, rather than caffeinated drinks.
Download ACC4653 Fatigue: Wake up to the danger (PDF 114K), a wallet card that lists the signs of fatigue, and how to plan and drive fatigue-free.
If you notice your eyes are drooping, you’ve missed road signs or you find you’ve drifted on the road – you’ve probably been asleep at the wheel and have had a microsleep.
Stop driving. Don’t hang on until you get to your destination. The only effective cure for fatigue is sleep.
If you drive as part of your job, you and your employer share responsibility to keep you safe on the road. For more information, see:
- Fatigue in the workplace
- Commercial Driver Nutrition Guide (external link) which provides information for employers and employees about the impacts that different foods have on the performance of the body and suggestions of food that will help manage fatigue when driving long hours.
Last updated: 9 October 2012