Blog > August 2019

By Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, FTA  

How many of us carry on driving when we're struggling to stay awake? We know that 40 per cent of all car, van and lorry drivers do. But driving while tired is very dangerous; it's the cause of around 20 per cent of all collisions on the UK's roads. It is of the utmost importance, then, that businesses enforce a strict no tolerance rule to driving while drowsy.  

With the help of Marcus de Guingand, Managing Director of Third Pillar of Health, who spoke at our recent Van Excellence Operational Briefings, let's look at some warning signs  – some more subtle than others – that it's time for you to take a rest when you're on the road: 

  • Frequent yawning and eyelids drooping 

  • Straining your eyes to focus on the road 

  • Memory lapses or frequently hitting the rumble strips 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you are at risk of microsleeping – dozing off for up to two seconds – which can result in a total loss of alertness. And if you consider that a vehicle driving at 56 miles per hour will travel 25 metres per second, it's easy to see how dangerous microsleeping can be.  

Van drivers can stay safe by spotting the warning signs early and taking evasive action as soon as possible. But contrary to common belief, winding down the window, turning up the music, or talking to a passenger are not effective countermeasures.  

Instead, drivers should adopt a more long-term approach to fatigue prevention. Here are six measures recommended by the Third Pillar of Health: 

  • Obtain adequate sleep before a journey 

  • Avoid driving in the early morning 

  • Take a nap before a journey 

  • Change drivers (providing the new driver is alert) 

  • Drink a caffeinated drink and immediately take a 15 to 20 minute nap 

  • Pull over to a roadside hotel to sleep 

We'll be sharing a series of blogs on the topic of fatigue – watch this space for the next installment. In the meantime, stay safe! 

Posted: 01/08/2019 09:00:00 by Els Matthews | with 0 comments