The RCMP are urging drivers to recognize the signs of driver fatigue.
Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but don’t realize a fatigued driving can be just as scary.
Like alcohol, fatigue impairment slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases the risk of being involved in a collision. Being awake for 23-24 hours causes the same impairment as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05.
“Drivers who are fatigued are more likely to be involved in a collision and put other road users at risk,” said Constable Chantelle Kelly of the Strathcona County RCMP. “It impacts driver’s attention and alertness and may lead to driver error."
Fatigued driving, other than the obvious lack of sleep, can be caused by driving alone, driving long distances without rest breaks, driving through the night or driving at times when the driver is normally asleep. Taking medication that increases sleepiness or drinking alcohol also contributes to the problem.
People most at risk for falling asleep at the wheel are shift workers with irregular work schedules. People with untreated sleep disorders, teenagers and young adults are also at risk.
Recognizing the symptoms of a fatigued driver can help prevent these collisions.
- Inability to keep eyes focused or up
- Having wandering, disconnected thoughts
- Driving the past few kilometres without remembering them
- Drifting between lanes, tailgating or missing traffic signs
- Noticing a vehicle in the rear view mirror that seemed to appear out of nowhere
Some think that drinking coffee, chewing gum, or rolling down the window will help a person stay awake but they won’t.
- Stop if you become sleepy while on the road
- Get plenty of sleep the night before a long trip
- Avoid working all day and then driving all night. Stay overnight rather than driving straight through
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 160 kilometres. Stretch or take a walk to get some fresh air
- Travel with an awake and alert passenger. Having someone to chat with will keep the driver awake and the passenger can also let the driver know if they are showing any sings of fatigue