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Driver Tiredness K ills. To raise your awareness of the dangers of driver tiredness To challenge some of the myths we have about driver tiredness To provide effective countermeasures to enable you to cope with the problem. Aims of the training. Background.

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aims of the training
To raise your awareness of the dangers of driver tiredness

To challenge some of the myths we have about driver tiredness

To provide effective countermeasures to enable you to cope with the problem

Aims of the training


Most people don’t take sleep seriously

Tiredness is seen as a weakness

Most of us don’t get enough sleep

Sleep is not ‘cool’

Staying awake is seen as macho, cool, young

fatigue and tiredness what s the difference
Fatigue and tiredness – what’s the difference?


Impairment due to prolonged physical or mental work

Solution: rest (not necessarily sleep)


  • The likelihood of falling asleep
  • Solution: sleep (rest is not sufficient)
Causes more than 20% of motorway accidents

Most frequent cause of accidental death of truck drivers

Accidents worse - high speed, no avoidance

3 times more likely to result in death or serious injury

Those with sleep problems are twice as likely to have an accident at work

Facts and figures

facts and figures
Annual Average Probability of Occupational Fatality:

Deep Sea Fishing 1 in 750

Coal Mining 1 in 7,100

Car Driving (25,000 miles/year) 1 in 8,000

Construction 1 in 10,000

Agriculture 1 in 13,500

Service Industries 1 in 150,000

Facts and figures

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

driver tiredness kills
Driver Tiredness kills

Performance after 18 hours of wakefulness is comparable to that of a drunk driver.


Who is most at risk?

  • Shift workers

- especially on the first night shift

  • Driving home after a night shift
  • Truck drivers
  • Company car drivers
  • Men

- particularly aged 18-24 and 40+

  • Skilled manual workers
We cannot live without sleep

We need about 7-8 hours of sleep every day

Not enough sleep leads to:

attention difficulties

slower reaction times

slower, muddled thinking

erratic speed control

sloppy steering

Effects of sleep loss build up

Recovery usually takes 2 full nights of sleep

Sleep is vital


The body clock

siesta time

  • minimum alertness
  • poor performance
  • maximum alertness
  • maximum performance

early morning


A good night’s sleep ….



Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4









Time of day (hours)


causes early morning awakening and disturbed sleep

worsens existing sleepiness

Sleeping pills

Designed for “short-term” use

effects can last too long and make you sleepy at work

can have side effects

smallest dose, shortest time, supervised by your doctor

Alcohol, drugs & sleep

over the counter medicines
Bought without prescription, but many can cause significant daytime sleepiness

Remedies for:

- Colds and flu

- Allergies (e.g. Hay fever)

- Travel sickness

Often contain medicine used to aid sleep

Over-the-counter medicines
obstructive sleep apnoea
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
  • Large neck (collar size over 43 cm/17 inches)
  • Overweight
  • Men, aged over 50
  • Heavy snoring
  • Choking during sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea affects 5% of the general population

and at least 20% of truck drivers

group discussion
Have you ever felt yourself falling asleep at the wheel?

What happened?

What do you do to cope with driver tiredness?

Group discussion

Doesn’t exist - just another name for falling asleep


Won’t stop you falling

asleep at the wheel

these will not keep you awake
Sucking lemons

Sticking pins in your wrist

Holding money out of the window

Recounting past romances

Shaking your head violently

Putting your hair up in the sun roof

These will notkeep you awake

Myths about tiredness

“Cold air will keep me awake”

The Facts are:

  • Cold air on your face will not keep you awake
  • … nor will listening to the radio,
  • …. or chewing gum,
  • …. or stretching the legs
  • Willpower will not keep you awake

Myths about tiredness

“I’ve been this tired before, and I can cope”

The Facts are:

  • When you are sleepy

- you over-estimate your alertness

- your judgment is not as good

  • Microsleeps are uncontrollable and inevitable
  • Determination won’t stop you from falling asleep
  • It is harder to cope with shift work as you get older
shared responsibilities
Shared responsibilities



Health and safety

  • workload & breaks
  • shift duration
  • type of work

Fitness to work

  • sleep not just rest
  • medical condition
  • medication

Work organisation

  • shift scheduling
  • workpredictability
  • pay system

Life outside work

  • family responsibilities
  • commuting
  • lifestyle
a healthy lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Don’t go to bed too full or too hungry
  • Avoid caffeine/alcohol before bed
  • To relax, have a warm bath or shower before bed
  • Exercise regularly, but not just before bedtime
Dark room - mask/heavy curtains

Quiet room - turn off the phone

- ‘Do not disturb’ sign on front door

- ear plugs

- white noise machines (e.g. fan)

Cooltemperature –c. 18 degrees centigrade

Comfortable bed – firm, supporting, check condition

The ideal sleep environment

on the road
Plan your journey and take a break every 2 hours

If you are feeling tired STOP DRIVING

Park somewhere safe

Call your scheduler if necessary

Have a couple of cups of strong coffee / caffeine drink

Followed by a 15-20 minute nap

Remember that this is an emergency measure

On the road
Use caffeine to increase alertness when you need it

Takes about 20 minutes to have an effect

Don’t use it when you are already alert

Avoid caffeine near bedtime

Don’t dehydrate – drink water too

Effects can be long lasting - know your own limits

Use of caffeine

when would you take a break from driving
You find it difficult to concentrate?

You keep adjusting your driving position?

You are repeatedly stretching and yawning?

Your head is nodding?

You are fighting to keep your eyes open?

When would you take a break from driving?


now when would you take a break
Finding it difficult to concentrate

Adjusting driving position

Stretching and yawning

Head nodding

Fighting to keep eyes open

Now … when would you take a break?
minutes from home
The journey home is a high risk time for falling asleep at the wheel

Many accidents occur close to destinations

We naturally relax and unwind after a long day and as we get close to home

Gives the body a signal that it is safe to sleep

Don’t be tempted to push on - STOP. Take a break.

Minutes from home?
Get the best sleep possible before starting your shift

When working shift work

- try to get as much sleep as you would on a day off

- ask your family to help you get adequate sleep

- when on nights, try not to delay this sleep to later in the day

Listen to your body

- if you feel sleepy and circumstances allow - sleep!

At home:

getting enough sleep

Fatigue has biological causes

The effects of sleep loss build up

If you ignore sleepiness, in the end you will fall asleep uncontrollably

Two full nights in a row of good sleep are needed for recovery

The body clock programmes us to sleep at night

The body clock does not adapt to night work

There is no single, simple answer to fatigue problems

These are recommendations – find what works for you

Improve your own situation … now!!!

Key Points - Summary


How long will you Survive?

No food – 3 to 4 weeks

No water – 3 to 4 days

No shelter – 3 to 4 hours

No sleep when driving

- 3 to 4 seconds