Top 10 signs of driver fatigue

Tess Lynch, 2 min read

Fatigue is one of the major causes of accidents on the road in Australia. Many drivers feel the pressure to continue working despite feeling fatigued in order to deliver their goods on time, but if any of the signs below are noticed while on the road it’s probably safer to take that power nap and be 15 minutes late.

1. Frequent yawning

Ok so, this one isn’t strictly limited to driver fatigue but it’s probably one of the first things you notice when you start getting tired. Yawning once probably isn't a sign of anything but frequent and continuous yawning is.

2. Difficulty keeping your eyes on the road

The road is pretty monotonous so when the asphalt here looks exactly the same as it did 200km ago it’s understandable that your eyes might wander occasionally. Take notice when your occasional glances at scenery turn into you forcing yourself to stay focused and struggling to keep your eyes both open and on the road.

3. Head nodding

Ever been jerked awake by your head hitting your chest? This is a sign of micro-sleep which is extremely common with driver fatigue. It may only last 3 seconds, but when travelling 90km/hr down a highway, 3 seconds is a long time to be unconscious for.

4. Irregular speed

When you’re tired, your speed fluctuates, going up and down with no rhyme or reason, making you an exceptionally unpredictable driver. This can be dangerous for the people driving around you, not to mention may make you victim to some road rage.

5. Drifting in and out of your lane

One of the first rules of driving is to stick to your lane. So when you start not wandering outside the lines, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re getting tired.

6. Poor gear changes

For one this could be a sign that you're a bad driver, but is most likely a sign that don’t have the energy to shift gears properly and should stop driving for a bit.

7. Increased number of mistakes

Over or under turning, nicking curbs, taking the wrong route, not only can they add time to your trip but if you're making these mistakes more than ussual it's probable a sign that you should take a break.

8. Daydreaming

A pretty common one, when you suddenly realise that you’ve driven 10km yet have no solid recollection of how. You’re not quite unconscious like when you micro sleep, but being unaware while driving is probably (definitely) not a good thing.

9. Seeing things jump out from the side of the road

Sometimes this can be referred to as “mild hallucination”, that sounds just a little bit extreme to me, and I’d hope that you’d think to take a nap before you start seeing pink elephants. What could happen when you’re tired and your vision starts to blur and you’re straining to focus, is seeing movement from the corner of your eye. Not only would this give most of us a mild heart attack if we thought a 4 year old was about to jump onto the road, but if it causes you to instinctively swerve it could cause an accident.

10. Slower reaction time

If a few too many people are honking you at the lights because you keep missing it turning green, hopefully their blaring woke you up enough to realise you should take a break. Plus, with a slower reaction time, if you get into a dangerous situation you may not be capable of responding fast enough.

Tess Lynch

Tess Lynch

Tess is a design savant, fashion leader and a pretty darn good writer. Whether it’s creating digital designs, blogging about learning science or rocking a neck-scarf, Tess can pull it off.

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