Driver Fatigue is NOT What You Think it Is!

• Do you know the signs of driver fatigue trouble?

• Do you know that incidents are more likely on a return trip?

• That nodding off at the wheel is only one problem?

• That people are not good at assessing their own levels of alertness?

• That alertness relates more to time-of-day than to time-on task?

• Do you know the best remedy for tiredness?

Common Misconceptions about Sleep and Drowsiness

People often think that driver fatigue means falling asleep at the wheel.

But fatigue symptoms include restlessness, boredom, drowsiness, aches and pains, sore or tired eyes and loss of concentration.

Fatigue-related crashes tend to be severe because tired people often fail to brake before colliding.

The trouble comes when people try to fight through those periods when they first get tired. You can then have what is called micro-sleeps, very short periods of sleep where a person might literally fall asleep for anywhere from two to 10 seconds without realizing it.

What is “Micro-sleep?”

Micro-sleeps can happen when people get a general sense that they are tired, and they get grumpy and irritable. While they are driving, they may notice that they are staring straight ahead, their eyes are a little glassy, and they begin to yawn a lot.

These are indicators that let a person know 'Hey, I'm getting tired --maybe it's time to stop and take a break.'

Falling asleep for 10 seconds while driving can have major consequences, especially since there is no way of knowing when a micro-sleep might occur.

"Once you become fatigued, it's difficult to predict when you might slip into a micro-sleep. If appropriate steps aren't taken as soon as you notice those signs of fatigue, it's difficult to know exactly when you might fall asleep." Tod Dawson, provides fatigue management solutions at Circadian Technologies.

Best Way To Beat Fatigue!

One of the best ways to counteract tiredness is by napping, Dawson says.

"Napping is one of the things that's been proven to help improve a person's alertness, not just for people in the car, but anybody on the street as well."

Dawson says studies show that a 15-minute nap can boost alertness for four or five more hours.

"That doesn't mean a guy is going to be at peak alertness, but it is certainly going to delay his drop in alertness so he won't fall into as great a fatigue."

"I think a lot of drivers know that if they need the 15 minutes, they will pull over and rest. They may not even get in the sleeper.

It could just be putting your head back on the rest for 10 or 15 minutes."

Why Fatigue Is a Problem

Even though we tend to think of driver fatigue as affecting only long-haul truck-drivers, it can affect all of us.

The most common effects of tiredness are:

• difficulty keeping your car within a lane

• more frequent and unnecessary changes in speed

• drifting off the road

• not reacting in time to avoid a dangerous situation

Fatigue is tiredness, weariness or exhaustion. You can be tired enough to impair your driving long before you “nod off” at the wheel.

When you are fatigued:

• your reactions are much slower

• your ability to concentrate is reduced

• it takes longer to interpret and understand the traffic situation

There is no quick fix and no single solution to the fatigue problem.

Sleep and naps are the main remedies. Best is to learn the danger signals and TO HAVE A NAP!

Recognizing Danger Signals:

1) There are big INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES in what people can handle and how tired they get, so it is very important to know and set your own limits.

2) SELF ASSESSMENT: Peoples’ self-assessments of their levels of alertness do not correlate well with objective measures of performance, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

3) TIME OF DAY/ TIME ON TASK: Drowsiness episodes were 8 times more likely between midnight and 6 am than during other times. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

4) STIMULANTS: While caffeine is known to increase alertness, there can be a “let down” effect or “jitters” from over use.

Find out about long lasting natural energy drinks with NO caffeine that can improve alertness and concentration for up 6 to 8 hours.

Recommendations for Truckers:

In depth studies of commercial driver alertness have been conducted by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Not surprisingly, crash data analysis shows that trip distance has the most pronounced effect on the percentage of fatal crashes that were fatigue related.

Not surprisingly, trip distance was found to have the most pronounced effect on the percentage of fatal crashes that were fatigue related – shorter trips are associated with much lower incidence.

Studies recommend addressing trucker fatigue with:

• Innovative hours-of service regulations and enforcement

• education

• driver work scheduling

• innovative fatigue management programs

• driver screening

• fitness for duty and alertness monitoring systems

Make sure you know the rules for Trucker Safety:

Safety Rules for Truckers

Best Energy Drink for Alertness -- Best Natural Energy Drinks

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