Driver fatigue is not only a risk to your health and safety – it is also a risk to the safety of passengers and other members of the public.
It is said that after 17 hours of being awake drivers have double the risk of an accident (the same as drink driving with a blood alcohol content level of 0.05) and after 22 hours the risk is five times greater. Shift workers are also six times more likely to be in a fatigue affected road crash than other workers.
Long periods of driving can be a cause of fatigue. To lower the chance of driver fatigue you should check your shifts and make sure that the time and length of your shifts are not more than the suggested periods listed below:
(taken from The Taxi Service Council VIC, Fatigue Management Guidelines)
The best remedy for sleepiness is sleep, but in managing fatigue, drivers should also consider the following tips:
- nap before working night shifts. Keep night shifts to a minimum (no more than four nights in a row).
- If changing from day to night shifts (or night to day), take a 24-hour break in between.
- Don’t do quick shift changeovers, such as finishing at 11 pm and starting again at 7 am.
- Take a have not had enough sleep during the day.
- Take plenty of rest breaks and drink water.
- Every two hours of driving without a break increases your risk of fatigue.
- Make sure that you allow enough time in your day for normal or extended uninterrupted rest periods.
- Don’t drive if you feel fatigued – if you notice that you may have ‘nodded off’, even for a second, stop driving/working straight away, take a nap or have a break and something to drink.
- It is strongly recommended that you turn the engine off when resting in the vehicle.
Drugs and alcohol
- Don’t drink lots of alcohol – it affects the quality of your sleep.
- Don’t take anything (that is, stimulants) to keep you awake – they delay the need for sleep.
- Avoid drinking any coffee or tea before going to bed. The use of caffeine/coffee or other stimulants you might take to keep you awake does not replace sleep. Research has shown that activities such as turning up the radio, opening the window or using the air conditioner do not work to avoid fatigue. The use of these to stay awake to allow you to keep working or driving a taxi is not safe and is not ok.
- Exercise regularly to stay fit and healthy.
- Keep a check on your weight – if you put on too much weight it may cause sleeping problems.
- People who are heavy snorers or snore a lot may be experiencing obstructive sleep apnoea. This condition is common and can be treated.
- If you regularly feel sleepy while driving or often doze off during other activities or show symptoms of sleep apnoea, you should seek advice from a sleep specialist.
- If you have a medical problem including irregular breathing and/or insomnia you should seek advice from a doctor.
- Tell your operator about any medical conditions that may affect you being able to work or that could bring on fatigue.
- If your medication makes you drowsy or sleepy, ask your doctor to give you another type of medication.