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Tips and Strategies to Prevent Driving Fatigue

Endless Australian roads.

Western Australia is home to some of the longest and loneliest roads in the country and is even home to one of Australia's longest highways, the Great Northern Highway.

Driving long distances can lead to driver fatigue, which is a common cause of car accidents on Western Australian roads.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, it's important to be aware of the signs of driver fatigue and to take steps to prevent it.

So, before you hit the road, make sure to familiarise yourself with some simple techniques to avoid driver fatigue and keep yourself and your passengers safe.

What is Driving Fatigue?

Driving fatigue, also known as ‘driver fatigue’, is a state of tiredness or drowsiness that occurs when a person is operating a vehicle for a prolonged period. This can affect their ability to drive safely.

In Australia, driving fatigue is a significant issue. This is prevalent in long-distance driving scenarios where drivers can experience boredom, a lack of stimulation, and physical discomfort, all of which can contribute to fatigue.

Fatigue is a major cause of road accidents in Australia, accounting for around 20% of all fatalities on Australian roads, according to the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications.

Fatigue-related accidents are typically more severe than other types of accidents, as drivers who fall asleep at the wheel may not take evasive action before impact.

What Symptoms Indicate Drowsy Driving?

Yawning female driver.

Some common symptoms that indicate drowsy driving or driver fatigue may include:

  • Yawning or blinking frequently
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open or focused.
  • Nodding off or feeling like you could fall asleep at any moment
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Having trouble maintaining a consistent speed
  • Missing road signs or exits
  • Drifting from your lane or hitting rumble strips
  • Inability to remember the last few kilometres driven

How Do You Prevent Fatigue while Driving?

Take a rest and refresh’ roadside sign for a rest area 5 kilometres ahead on the left.

There are some steps or strategies that can help you prevent fatigue while driving. These include:

Get Enough Rest

Make sure you are well-rested before embarking on a long trip. Get a full night's sleep before you hit the road. Driving when you've slept less than 6 hours can lead to most accidents.

It's generally dangerous to drive at night or during the time after lunch when you feel sleepy. Also, avoid driving at times when your body is naturally programmed to sleep.

Take Regular Breaks

If you can, try to take a break every two hours to stretch your legs, move your body, and walk a bit. This can help reduce fatigue and improve your alertness.

If you have to drive for an extended period, consider taking a brief 5-minute nap to recharge.

Avoid Heavy Meals

Heavy meals can make you feel sluggish and sleepy. Instead, opt for light, healthy snacks, such as fruits or nuts, that can provide you with the energy you need without making you feel sleepy.

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to help you stay alert and focused.

Stay Alert

Stay focused on the road and avoid distractions like your phone or loud music. Keep the temperature in your car comfortable and try to engage in conversation with your passengers.

Do not depend on external factors like music, air conditioning, or conversations with other passengers to keep you awake while driving.

Use Caffeine in Moderation

Caffeine can help you stay alert, but it's important to use it in moderation. Avoid consuming large amounts of caffeine, as this can lead to dehydration and other side effects.

Instead of consuming a large amount of caffeine, try to have small and frequent doses to improve your alertness while driving. If possible, avoid sugar, as it can make you feel even sleepier after 30 or 90 minutes.

Plan Your Route

Plan your route and allow plenty of time to reach your destination. This can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can contribute to fatigue.

Plus, planning can help you avoid getting lost or stuck in traffic, which can add unnecessary stress to your journey.

Staying Alert on the Road

To drive safely, you need good hand-eye coordination, planning skills, and the ability to react to what you see and hear. But to avoid feeling tired while driving, you must get enough rest before a long drive.

It's just as important to take care of yourself as it is to take care of your car. If your car needs maintenance or new tyres, give us a call on (08) 9734 2869. Alternatively, you can visit our store located at 44 Johnston Street, Collie.

Remember to rest well, drive safely, and make sure your car is running smoothly.

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