South Dublin County Council

Driver fatigue

All drivers have to be alert behind the wheel at all times. Unexpected events on the road, like a pedestrian crossing the road without looking out for traffic or a vehicle slamming on brakes right in front of you without any warning, needs quick thinking and fast action – something you cannot do when you are tired!

What is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a lack of physical strength, a feeling of being tired or exhausted, that causes difficulty in moving the arms, legs and other muscles.

What causes fatigue?

  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress in the work environment 
  • Poor sleeping habits 
  • Depression 
  • Boredom or monotonous working conditions
  • Colds and flu sometimes cause fatigue, although the symptoms of fatigue will disappear as the cold runs its course.

Driver fatigue:

  • It is a given fact that long distance drivers suffer from driver fatigue due to the long, boring hours spent behind the wheel, poor sleeping habits and the lack of exercise. You could be suffering from driver fatigue if:
  • Your eyes go out of focus by themselves, you battle to see properly. 
  • You have trouble keeping your head up. 
  • You can’t stop yawning. 
  • You can’t concentrate and you lose track of time.
  • You battle to keep an even speed and keep drifting out of your lane. 
  • You don’t remember driving the last few miles. 
  • You miss the highway off-ramp that you are supposed to take.

How to combat driver fatigue:

  • A driver should be allowed to stop for a 10 minute rest after each 2 to 4 hour driving period.
  • Always get a good night’s sleep before you drive. 
  • Don’t drive when you are tired – choose a safe place to stop and REST! 
  • Make sure you get plenty of fresh air while you drive. 
  • Don’t depend on coffee or drugs to keep you awake. 
  • Keep your eyes moving, by regularly checking your mirrors, speed and the road ahead. 
  • In winter, don’t drive with the heater blowing in your face – it will make you sleepy.
  • Don’t drive with the cab light on – it strains your eyes and distorts your vision.

Home treatment for fatigue:

  • Regular exercise is your best bet. If you feel too tired to exercise, try walking a short, brisk walk. 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. 
  • Recognise the symptoms of depression and seek professional help is you feel you are not coping. 
  • Limit drugs like tranquilizers, cold and allergy medications which could contribute to fatigue.
  • Reduce your use of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

Chronic fatigue:

Chronic Fatigue is a flu-like illness that causes severe fatigue lasting longer than 6 months. Call your doctor if unexplained fatigue is severe, persistent and interferes with your activities for more than two weeks despite home treatment.