Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to prevent reduce Driver Fatigue

Two weeks back Eddie Wren from Advanced Drivers of America shared an article on how Mercedes has introduced the system to tackle drowsiness while driving. Mercedes is introducing new Attention Assist system, designed to detect drowsiness on the driver. But technology can only help in creating the tools which we require to make things go our way. To avoid the evils of he drowsiness while driving we should also make the conscious effort ourself. When I asked Eddie to help me in putting up an article on how we can prevent or reduce the driver fatigue (and drowsiness), he shared some really good facts and techniques for the same. These items are collated from empirical research on global best practice. Thus these carry Copyright of Eddie Wren / Advanced Drivers of America. I have added my analytical effort and created these guidelines.


1. The best and first way to prevent driver fatigue is to get enough sleep. This means sleeping for at least good 8 hours before you set out for the trip.

2. Avoid heavy meals before long drives, especially if you are one of those who feel snoozy post dinner

3. Avoid alcohol, which contributes to sleepiness, large meals and any medications that might make you drowsy.

4. Adjust your seat to an upright position so that the base of your wrists makes contact with the top of the steering wheel. Keep the temperature even; driving in a car that’s too warm or too cold can make you sleepy.

5. Stop every two hours or 100 miles (160 Kilometers) of travel -- whichever comes first, for at least a 20-minute break. This is important not only to maintain alertness but also to prevent deep-vein thrombosis. It is bad for your circulation -- particularly your legs -- to sit for too long at the wheel of a vehicle, without exercise.

6. Once you have stopped, if your health factors permit, drink a caffeinated drink (e.g. coffee, tea e.t.c.) then have a brisk walk.

7. If you actually start to feel drowsy while driving, find the first safe place to get off the road and stop, as promptly as possible. This must be a safe distance away from any moving traffic.

8. If you stop as suggested above, you should -- if possible -- have TWO caffeinated drinks (not just one) then take a nap of up to BUT NOT EXCEEDING twenty minutes.
(Use your cell phone's alarm to make sure you awaken before the 20 minutes is up). This apparently random reference to 20 minutes is actually very important and it relates to the fact that a human brain identifies a long nap as being the start of a longer, deeper sleep, and it therefore triggers the release of endorphins into the blood stream specifically to make you go into and stay in a deeper sleep. Clearly that is not a signal you want your body to issue if you plan to continue driving. Those endorphins, once released, will stay in your blood stream for around 8 hours and will make you a major danger to yourself and to everyone who crosses your path during that time.

9. If you follow the directions in paragraph above, you should be okay for another session behind the wheel (but be particularly careful to monitor your own alertness). If you start to feel drowsy again during this next portion of your journey, enough is enough; it is time to stop and find a motel. Continuing to drive might result in you killing yourself or -- even worse -- perhaps obliterating somebody else's children (or maybe even an entire family).

10. Shift-workers -- in particular night-shift workers -- have a much higher risk of crashing due to drowsy driving. Young men, in their teens and their 20's are at a higher risk than other people, too.

11. Be very cautious about driving overnight. At night the brain simply follows the body clock irrespective of your actions and releases endorphins, so if you drive during your normal sleep period, you are putting yourself and all around you at significant risk.

Hope this will help you enjoying a safe driving trip.
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