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Driving while Tired

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 7 Apr 2014 | comments*Discuss
Exhausted Driving Wheel Tired Drowsy

Driving while tired is extremely dangerous, both for yourself and other road users. Driving requires intense concentration and perception, but these are greatly reduced when you are drowsy. Your judgement skills are also impaired, which can make you slower to see potential or actual dangers and react to them.

The Dangers of Driving while Sleepy

Driving when tired makes you less likely to be fully aware of what is going on around you. This includes both the actions of other road users and potential hazards such as pedestrians. You are less likely to spot the warning signs before it is too late, which can easily cause or contribute to an accident. This happens because your concentration is more easily broken and your judgement and perception skills are not as sharp as normal. This combination only needs to drop ever so slightly to become dangerous.

The Legal Stance on Driving Tired

The law takes a dim view of drowsy driving. If you are caught driving while drowsy or you fall asleep at the wheel, you can be charged with careless or dangerous driving. If you are involved in a fatal accident, you can be charged with dangerous driving. This can result in a prison sentence of up to fourteen years.

Dealing with Tiredness on the Road

If you feel tired or sleepy before you set off in the car, you should avoid beginning the journey in the first place. If this is not possible, you should drive slowly and carefully (under the maximum speed, but above the minimum speed limit if there is one in place). This will allow you to drive at a speed at which you can react to dangers and possible hazards if they occur. You should also plan several rest breaks to refresh your concentration. This is particularly important if your journey is going to be fairly long (for example, if you are travelling on the motorway), as it is easy to lose concentration due to the monotony. On a warm day, it is particularly easy to have your focus broken. Taking a ten minute break every quarter of an hour will go a long way towards helping you to stay focused and alert. As the advert says, “Tiredness kills”. Many road users are killed every year because drivers are too reluctant to stop en route.

Contrary to popular belief, having the window wide open will not improve your concentration levels and get rid of fatigue. Many people think that regular blasts of cool air will help them to stay alert, but this is rarely the case. Likewise, turning up the volume on the radio or CD player will do little to help your focus. In many cases, it can actually have the opposite effect, as certain beats can actually lull you into monotony and boredom.

Driving when tired and exhausted can make you a big danger on the roads as you are less aware of your surroundings. You should avoid getting in the car when this is the case whenever possible. This also applies if you are taking medication that is likely to make you sleepy (this will usually be indicated on the instructions). If you have no option but to drive, there are a few things that you can do to make the situation less dangerous, but this is no alternative to postponing the journey until you feel better.

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After driving for about half an hour in the mid afternoon and feeling fine, I suddenly blacked out for a few seconds. I came to, to find myself heading towards a bus. I was on the wrong side of the road. I quickly regained control and no accident took place. However the police were behind me and stopped me. They drove me home. That evening, three of them came to my house, said that I was asleep, and that they could prosecute me, but wouldn't do so if I would allow them to send details of the incident to the DVLA along with my licence. They promised that my licence would be returned. It wasn't, and the DVLA tell me that I have voluntarily surrendered my licence and can therefore no longer drive. The police said that as I was 81, they felt it best to get me off the road! What are my rights, and what can I do now?
elderly but active - 7-Apr-14 @ 8:58 AM
Driving slowly is IMHO not particularly safe as it can be extremely boring.A bit more speed gives ones brain something to do and the adrenaline will help keep one alert.Of course I am not condoning driving as fast as White Van Man in the Mercedes Sprinters (how do they afford to pay for the fuel to go at warp speed? Oh the firm buys it!)On a motorway one really needs to cruise at at least 60mph otherwise one will find HGVs "pushing" or carving one up.The motorway is no place for sluggish vehicles.
Davey - 4-Apr-12 @ 12:47 AM
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