Tiredness in traffic – risks & reducing tiredness

Tiredness is an indication that your body needs to recuperate in order for all your senses to function optimally.

Nearly all tired drivers are aware of being tired. Despite this, they continue driving because it seems unnecessary to sleep in the car when they are “so close” or cannot find a “good” place to stop. In other words, the tiredness does not appear to be taken seriously enough.

A sleepless night is comparable to a blood alcohol level of around 0.8 per mille. The penalty for driving when obviously tired is the same as for drunk driving.

Causes of tiredness

Dangers & risks associated with tiredness

Nearly all senses and abilities are impaired. However, the most serious impairments in terms of traffic are the following:

  • Poorer concentration.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • It takes longer to perceive things (some things you fail to notice at all).
  • Poor decision-making skills.
  • Reaction time and reflexes become slower.
  • Difficulty maintaining a steady course and speed.

Indications of tiredness

  • Blurry vision.
  • Problems concentrating and thinking clearly.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Frequent yawning.
  • Feeling cold.
  • Difficulty maintaining your speed.
  • Head feels heavy.
  • Overreacting.
  • Muscle relaxation.
  • Optical illusions.
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open.

Avoid tiredness

  • Drive rested.
  • Make sure the car is not too warm.
  • Take a break after driving for about one hour (get out of the car).
  • Do not eat “heavy” foods (meat etc.).

Reduce tiredness

The best and only right way

  • Have a long sleep.

Reducing the tiredness temporarily

  • Short nap (no less than 15 minutes).
  • Take a break/stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
  • Coffee or other form of caffeine (can have the same effect as a 20-minute nap).

Tiredness glossary

  • Microsleeping: When you nod off and wake up almost immediately with a jerk of the head. Microsleeping lasts for a very short period of time, often less than a second.
  • Sleep apnoea: Breathing problems that disrupt your sleep at night. The lack of sleep resulting from this issue leads to a significantly higher risk of tiredness-related traffic accidents.
  • Nap: Light and short sleep (15–30 minutes).

Statistics on tiredness

  • Most tiredness-related accidents occur between 02:00 and 05:00.
  • Single-vehicle accidents are the most common type of tiredness-related accident.
  • 40% of single-vehicle accidents occur at night or dawn (high probability that they are caused by tiredness).
  • Close to the destination = greater accident risk, as you relax thinking that you are almost there.
  • Younger men run the greatest risk of having a tiredness-related accident.
  • 12 times higher accident risk at night than during the day.

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Last updated 2019-06-13.