Staying awake at wheel could be matter of life and death
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is urging UK drivers to
be aware of the dangers of fatigue behind the wheel, and reminding us
what we can all do to ensure we don’t compromise our own – and other
road users – safety whilst driving on British roads.
Similar to the effects of alcohol, sleep deprivation affects the
manner in which we drive to levels that pose serious risks for the
general public at large. The IAM has identified that those drivers
experiencing fatigue will not drive as well – or as safely – as those
who remain alert at all times, and consequently fall into the highest
Both physical and mental performance are first tested, and then
subsequently diminished as tiredness increases, up to the point where
the driver might actually find themselves falling asleep at the wheel
and endangering the welfare of all motorists and pedestrians in the
Studies indicate that driver fatigue is blamed for one in five
motorway crashes, although a break down of associated statistics aren’t
as yet available.
Naturally, motorists accused of driving whilst suffering the
effects of tiredness very rarely concur that their attention levels
have dipped so low as to compromise their capabilities to react and
pro-act to the rigours of driving.
More alarming still is the fact that many who do crash have very
little recollection as to the events that led up to the incident.
In light of this, the IAM has drawn up and published a number of
simple steps we can all take that will hopefully limit the problem
Stay alert by remembering the following code;
1. Get plenty of rest before setting out on a long journey.
2. Don’t drive if you feel in any way tired or unwell.
3. Wear adjustable, loose-fitting attire.
4. Adjust the driver’s seat to a comfortable, upright position.
5. Adjust the heating/air-conditioning to a cool – but not cold – temperature.
6. Try and avoid driving through the night, and periods when you’re body would normally expect you to be asleep.
7. Early afternoon also affects your mind and body’s ability to
maintain clarity of thought, and provides risk of lapses in
8. Take regular breaks – at least once every two hours.
9. Get out of your vehicle and walk around during these breaks. Don’t just stay seated.
If you experience tiredness whilst driving, take this advice;
1. Act rapidly, and do not attempt to ‘drive through’ the
on-setting fatigue. Turning up the radio volume and/or increasing the
air-con to the coldest setting won’t keep you awake.
2. If you must continue, locate a safe place to pull over and stop
as quickly as possible. Have a caffeine-rich drink and take a short, 20
minute nap that will allow the caffeine to circulate your system.
However, you can only do this the once, as it wont have the same effect
second time around.
3. Once you feel more awake, continue your journey. But bear in
mind that you must stop reasonably soon. Whenever you suspect
tiredness, sleep until you feel fresh and alert enough to resume your