Plan for a Safe Trip
- Plan your trip in such a way as to maximize sleep and rest periods.
- Prevent visual fatigue when driving: dim the instrument panel lights, clean the windshields and the rear-view mirrors regularly, do not put things on the instrument panel because they will be reflected in the windshield and make your visual fatigue worse.
- Begin your trip when you are well rested.
- Avoid night-time driving between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., and afternoon driving between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Schedule breaks every two hours and take a nap whenever you feel drowsy. Taking short naps (of approximately 20 to 30 minutes) will not keep you from getting restful sleep at the appropriate time.
- Eat lightly and never consume alcohol before driving.
- Get out of your vehicle frequently to relax and stretch your muscles.
- On long hauls, share the driving if possible.
- Observe speed limits.
Questionnaire: “Assessing your risk of falling asleep at the wheel”
It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you do not get enough sleep you accumulate a sleep debt. A debt of five hours has the same effect as consuming two or three drinks.
The only way to combat a sleep debt is to get enough sleep.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you been awake for 18 hours or more?
- Have you slept six hours or less over the past 24 hours?
- Do you often drive between midnight and 6:00 a.m.?
- Are you often drowsy when you drive?
- Do you work nights?
- Do you have more than one job?
- Do you suffer from a sleep disorder?
If you recognize one or more of these signs, you are more at risk of having a drowsiness-related accident, even if you are not feeling tired. Half of drivers who have had an accident caused by drowsiness have stated that they felt “a little tired” or “not at all tired” just before the accident.
As soon as you notice the first signs of fatigue, stop to rest at a safe place.
- commercial vehicle drivers
- young drivers
- shift workers (irregular work schedules)
- individuals with sleep disorders
- drivers whose lifestyle impacts the quality and length of their sleep
- working more than 60 hours a week increases the risk of being involved in a fatigue-related accident by 40%
Do not set out on a trip if you have a sleep deficit.
Regardless of your age, if you do not get enough sleep, you will accumulate a “sleep deficit.” A five-hour deficit has the same effect as two or three glasses of wine. The only way to fight a sleep deficit is to get enough sleep.