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How to deal with Fatique at the Wheel

How to deal with Fatique at the Wheel


  • Drivers under age 30, especially men
  • Professional drivers
  • Workers with irregular schedules, long work days or who work night shifts
  • Individuals who suffer from an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder
  • Individuals whose lifestyle affects the amount and quality of sleep they get


  • You yawn often
  • Your eyes are burning
  • You have trouble keeping your eyes open
  • You have trouble:
    • finding a comfortable position, e.g. shifting around in your seat
    • concentrating and staying attentive, e.g. missing an exit
    • maintaining a steady speed and keeping the vehicle on a straight course
  • Your reactions are slower
  • You have memory lapses, e.g. you can’t remember the last few kilometres driven
  • You are seeing things that are not there, particularly when there is fog or on monotonous stretches of highway, e.g. you think you see an animal on the road
  • You stop looking in your rearview mirrors

Driving while tired is driving with an “impaired brain”. The consequences?

  • Reduced reflexes and alertness
  • Increased reaction time and risk of drowsiness
  • Altered memory
  • Reduced visual field


You can't just decide to be less tired. Will power and driving experience won't make any difference.

Drinking coffee or an energy drink, rolling down the window or turning up the radio have no effect on fatigue and are really just myths and false beliefs.

The only way to win the battle against fatigue is to stop driving as soon as you feel the first signs.


  • If you feel tired, pull over to a safe place to stretch your legs or take a nap. Fifteen to thirty minutes are usually enough.
  • Hand the wheel over to another driver.
  • Whenever possible, avoid driving at night or at times you would normally sleep.
  • Plan trips by taking into consideration the times when fatigue is most often felt. There is a greater risk of drowsiness in the early and mid-afternoon.
  • Avoid monotonous and poorly lit roads at night.
  • Slow down. Driving at higher speeds forces you to process a larger amount of information quickly, which brings on fatigue.
  • Avoid visual fatigue, e.g. by dimming the dashboard lighting.
  • Eat light meals and stay hydrated.
  • Avoid alcohol.

 Taking a break

A break will restore your alertness for a short time, whereas a nap will help you recuperate if you are tired, and you will feel rested longer.

Taking a nap

A nap can never replace a good night's sleep, but in case of serious fatigue, it can help you safely continue your trip for some time.

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