We hear a lot about driving under the influence of drugs and drinking and the dangers it can cause for young drivers on the road. While we’re all aware that driving under the influence has life-threatening repercussions for young drivers and legal repercussions for that matter, fatigue is also a major problem on the roads. The slogan ‘tiredness kills’ is present on road signs all over Ireland and for good reason. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 driver deaths in Ireland every year are related to tiredness. Fatigue is the physical and mental impairment that is brought about by inadequate rest over a period of time.
Tiredness related collisions are 3 times more likely to be fatal or result in serious injury because of the high impact speed and lack of response time. A survey carried out by the RSA in 2014, revealed that 1 in 10 drivers across Ireland have fallen asleep at the wheel. The severity of this situation is ever-present, so we’ve compiled some useful tips on how to avoid driver fatigue as a young driver and what to do if it creeps up on you, mid-drive.
1.Don’t drive when you’re tired.
This tip does it exactly what it says on the tin. The most basic rule of thumb to follow is to never ever drive when you are tired. If you’ve had a bad sleep and you must get up early, think twice before reaching for your keys. Similarly, if you have worked a night shift or you have had a few late nights in a row, consider getting public transport, ringing a friend or getting a taxi to your destination.
We would all prefer to hop into our own cars and drive home, however if you’re feeling exhausted you’re not only putting yourself at risk but you’re putting others at risk too.
2.Put a sleep routine into practice.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital across the board. We need an adequate sleeping pattern not only for driver safety but for our health too. Most healthy young adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you find it hard to switch off, then this might sound unattainable.
There are several steps you can take however to improve your sleeping routine. Try to go to sleep around the same time every night even on the weekends. This can have positive implications on your ability to fall asleep because it allows your body to become accustomed to routine. If you continue to go to sleep at the same time for long periods, your body will feel ready for sleep when the appropriate time comes at night.
Try to avoid taking naps after 3pm. We understand that when you’re studying full time or working long hours, it can be very tempting to indulge in a snooze when you feel tired midday. This can reap havoc on your sleep schedule however as you will be refreshed and awake come bedtime. Ensure that you’re hydrated throughout the day and that you incorporate exercise into your routine to avoid the midday slump.
Finally, avoid coffee in the evening. Again, we can always empathise with need to feel highly caffeinated, however, this vice could be a contributing factor as to why you’re lying awake at night.
3.Take a break during a long journey.
If you find yourself dozing off or struggling to keep your eyes open on a road trip, get your hands on a cup of coffee, find a safe place to park and take a 15-minute power nap. The caffeine should start to take effect once you wake up. The Road Safety Authority recommends two cups of coffee or a 150g caffeine drink.
After you’ve done this, get some fresh air and stretch your body with a walk to get rid of any drowsiness following your nap.
It’s imperative that you do not try to fight the tiredness, as this will only consume more of your energy and will inevitably send you to sleep. Open your window while your driving and turn up the radio as these can help to prevent drowsiness. However, if you notice that you’re already struggling, these will not counteract that sleepy feeling.
When you feel like you need a nap, don’t be afraid to pull in somewhere safe and take one!
4.Avoid big meals pre road trip.
Tiredness becomes more apparent after a big meal because glucose is quickly being released into our bloodstreams. The increases insulin production which causes a brain barrier, or that ‘just can’t keep my eyes open’ feeling. If you know you’re going to be undertaking a large car journey, then you should eat a small meal prior, one which is low in carbohydrates and high in protein and leafy greens. This will help you to feel more alert on the road and will lower the chances of your falling asleep.
5.Try to avoid driving at times when you should be sleeping.
Where possible you should try to drive long journeys during the day. At night, when it’s dark your body is naturally beginning to wind down. Driving for hours in the pitch dark, will put pressure on your concentration levels. You’re more alert when it’s bright outside, so try to schedule you long drives for daylight hours!
At coverinaclick.ie, we want to ensure that all our young and learner drivers are safe on Irish roads. If you want a great car insurance policy at a great price, reach out to us today!