Many fatal crashes are caused by people driving when they’re tired. If you feel tired, don’t drive. Don’t risk your life or the lives of others.

Recognise the warning signs

Signs of fatigue are:

  • having trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or holding your head up
  • daydreaming, wandering or disconnected thoughts, memory loss
  • yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
  • drifting from your lane, tailgating and missing signs or exits
  • feeling restless and irritable.

Tips to help you avoid driver fatigue

  • Get a good night’s sleep before driving, preferably 8 hours.
  • Avoid driving during the hours when you’re normally sleeping.
  • If you normally have a mid-afternoon nap, avoid driving at this time.
  • Make sure that after sleep, you’re fully awake before driving.
  • Don’t drink even small amounts of alcohol. It makes fatigue much worse.
  • When taking long trips, include rest breaks in your journey plan.
  • Share the driving if possible.
  • Snack on light, fresh foods. Fatty, sugary or carbohydrate-filled foods can make you tired.

Stop to revive, then drive

During long trips, take rest breaks about every 2 hours or every 100 kilometres.

If you start feeling sleepy or notice any of the warning signs:

  • don’t keep driving – pull over in a safe place, as far off the road as possible
  • take a 15–20 minute power nap in the passenger seat. Try not to nap for longer than 40 minutes or you may feel groggy and disoriented afterwards – this is called sleep inertia
  • wait at least 10 minutes before you start driving again, to make sure that you’re completely awake.

Once fatigue has set in, no amount of willpower will keep you awake. The only answer is sleep and you should stop for a short nap or seek help to get home. If you still feel sleepy, don’t drive. Find a place to sleep for longer or for the night.

Driver fatigue