Stephen F. Austin State University

Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management

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Driving Fatigue Prevention

Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% - the U.S. legal limit

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about half of U.S. adult drivers admit to consistently getting behind the wheel while feeling drowsy. About 20% admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point in the past year - with more than 40% admitting this has happened at least once in their driving careers.

Factors in employees' driver fatigue include:

• lack of sleep due to long or irregular shift work hours;

• poor sleep quality;

• driving during normal sleeping hours (midnight to 6 am);

• driving on rural roads and highways; and

• taking medications that can make you drowsy or consuming alcohol before driving.

Driving for work requires you to be alert, especially on long road trips.. Take these steps to prevent driver fatigue and its harmful effects:

• Get enough sleep. Most adults need seven to eight hours per night.

• Start trips as early in the day as possible.

• Avoid long nighttime drives.

• Avoid driving alone if possible.

• Take public transit or use ride-sharing companies if possible.

• Keep trips to reasonable distances.

• Stop to eat snacks or light meals.

• Take breaks every two hours or 100 miles.

• On a break, get out of the vehicle and walk, jog, or stretch.

• Keep the driver's area cool and well ventilated. • Vary your driving speed.

• Sing or listen to the radio to keep alert.

• Avoid alcohol and any medications that might cause drowsiness.

• Drive with an erect posture, with legs at a 45-degree angle.

• Pull over at a rest stop or other safe place and take a 20-minute nap (any longer will make you feel groggy).