Spotlight on driver fatigue: Risks and prevention

You’re having trouble staying alert, your eyelids are getting heavy… Feeling this way is not out of the ordinary, but not when you’re behind the wheel! You should take this situation seriously right away, because fatigue is one of the leading causes of accidents on our roads, right up there with distracted driving and alcohol. Here are a few details taken from La Capitale’s blog to fill you in on everything you need to know on the subject!

Fatigue by the numbers…

  • According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, in 2012, one in five Canadian drivers admitted to feeling drowsy or falling asleep at the wheel in the previous 12 months.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, fatigue was responsible for 21% of fatal accidents in Quebec and 23% of accidents involving bodily injuries.
  • According to the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), accidents related to driver fatigue cause an average of 78 deaths a year, and 8,532 injuries.
    In addition to the “human costs” of the problem, there are the financial ramifications. That’s why good auto insurance coverage is always essential.

Who’s at risk?

Falling asleep behind the wheel can happen to anyone. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will accumulate a sleep deficit. This deficit has the same effect as drinking two or three glasses of wine! Staying awake for too long doubles your reaction times at the wheel.

Overall, you’re three times more likely to get into an accident if you’re fatigued during the day, and eight times more likely at night. Our metabolism slows during two critical periods: From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon and of course, in the wee hours between 2:00 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Some people are more susceptible to experiencing episodes of driver fatigue. Among them are…

  • Heavy vehicle drivers
  • Drivers under age 30 and new drivers
  • Individuals who suffer from a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea
  • Workers who work night shift or have irregular schedules
  • Drivers who are on medication, or consume drugs or alcohol

Despite the presence of higher-risk categories, everyone should practice caution.

Warning signs

Notable symptoms: 31% of drivers don’t notice the first symptoms of fatigue – or ignore them. It’s especially true among young drivers, who do represent some risk.
Learn to identify sure-fire signs:

  • Itchy eyes or heavy eyelids
  • Yawning
  • Distraction or lack of concentration
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficulty maintaining your speed
  • Slow reactions

Preventing and reacting: The only solution

The only way to cope with fatigue is rest. To avoid dangerous situations, follow these tips:

  • Rest before driving.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.
  • Don’t eat heavy meals.
  • Avoid driving between midnight and 4.00 a.m.
  • Take a break every two hours (in fact, be sure not to drive more than four consecutive hours)

The bottom line: Pay attention to the first symptoms of fatigue in order to protect yourself…and others!

Take advantage of the partnership between Communauto and La Capitale!

If you’re already a Communauto member, ask for an insurance quote from La Capitale to add up the savings and get exclusive benefits on your home, auto or leisure vehicle insurance!

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