Driver Fatigue: Symptoms, Causes, Effects, Consequence, How to Avoid Driver Fatigue

“Accidents will happen no matter how careful a man be!” However, being fatigued while driving or driver’s fatigue actually increases the risk of an accident. Now what does a driver fatigue mean? Well! In this article of ours we will know about this particular condition where we will talk about some facts and statistics, symptoms, causes of driver fatigue and also know about some ways to avoid driver fatigue. Go through the article for a better understanding on the condition. This surely would be a beneficial read for you.

Symptoms of Driver Fatigue

Overview on Driver Fatigue:

Driver fatigue is suspected to be the major cause in more than 20% of road accidents. Most accidents that are related to fatigue occur during normal sleeping hours of the driver. It is also known that more severe the accident, the more likely it is that the drivers were fatigued. Driver fatigue is a likely factor in about 1/3rd of single –vehicle accidents in rural areas.

Actually fatigue is a physical as well as a mental impairment brought about in an individual by inadequate rest over a long period of time. Usually we all need 7-8 hours of sleep every night. However drivers who suffer from driver fatigue lack their sleeping hours and have risk of meeting with road accidents.

Though most people feel that driver fatigue can be a problem for long distance drivers; however it can also be possible that short distance drivers may also suffer from driver’s fatigue that may lead to serious crashes. There are various reasons for driver fatigue; which we will know in the following arrays of the article.

Symptoms of Driver Fatigue:

Driver fatigue is a condition where it becomes very difficult for the driver to accurately assess his or her own level of fatigue. As an individual get more fatigue, his or her ability to asses self gets increasingly impaired. However, there are some signs to have a note on. Kindly look below to know some of the signs and symptoms of driver fatigue.

  • Difficulty in focusing or concentrating or lack of attention.
  • Inability to keep the eyes open
  • Nodding of head
  • Poor judgement and slower time of reaction.
  • Zoning out
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Rubbing of eyes or constantly yawning
  • Not able to remember the last few minutes.
  • Drifting in the lane is also one symptom of driver’s fatigue.

Causes of Driver fatigue:

Talking about the causes; primarily there are two causes of driver fatigue. They are:

  1. Lack of sleep; maybe lack of qualitative or quantitative sleep
  2. Driving during the times of day when you would generally be sleeping.

There are various factors which influence the probability that an individual while driving will have driver fatigue. These factors are listed below.

  • If you are not sleeping at least 7 hours a day. Quantity of sleep can be a factor leading to driver fatigue. If you are not getting enough of sleep; then you are gradually building a sleep debt which can only be fulfilled with proper sleep.
  • If your quality of sleep is not good or if you are not having sound and uninterrupted sleep; you may experience the fatigue condition while driving. So, quality of sleep contributes as a factor for driver fatigue.
  • If you are physically and mentally exhausted. Physical and mental exhaustion may be a factor leading to driver fatigue.
  • It is also the time of the day which can be a factor leading to driver fatigue. Our body and brain have circadian rhythm that influences how alert or how sleepy we are at particular period of the day. If one drives during the drowsy hours of the day; he or she may experience driver fatigue.
  • Sleeping disorders like sleep apnea; which are not treated may also contribute to driver fatigue.
  • Taking sedative drugs may also cause driver fatigue.

Who are at Significant Risk of Catching Driver Fatigue?

Let us know the groups of people who are at more risk of being encountered with driver fatigue than others.

  1. Young drivers who are driving at night and who are inexperienced in driving
  2. Commercial drivers who go for long distance driving, usually at night
  3. Business travellers who suffer from jet jag often suffer from lack or poor quality sleep and may be more at risk of driver fatigue
  4. Shift workers who work during night shift can catch driver fatigue.

Effects and Consequences of Driver Fatigue:

  • The effects and consequences of driver fatigue can be actually disastrous. As driver’s fatigue impairs mental processing as well as decision making abilities; driving individual can lapse in to a micro sleep without even realizing which may only last for few seconds; but may be risky especially if there are some crucial driving task like turning the wheel or responding to the red signal at the traffic light etc. Here, there are more chances of crashing or accidents.
  • A driver who is suffering from driver fatigue may not be able to prevent crash. This is why consequences and effects of driver’s fatigue are very much dangerous.

How to Avoid Driver Fatigue?

Now that we are known to the symptoms, causes and consequences of driver fatigue; let us know the ways to avoid the condition, in this section.

  • Have a proper quality and quantity sleep at least 7-8 hours before driving.
  • Avoid driving at afternoon if you are habituated to sleep at afternoon times usually.
  • Be very much sure that you are completely awake before driving.
  • Do not drink alcohol which may trigger fatigue while driving
  • Make sure you are getting enough of fresh air.
  • Take fresh and light food and avoid consuming sugary, fatty or carbohydrate rich foods which may make you feel tired or cause fatigue
  • If you are on long drive, take rest after 2 hours.
  • Take a friend along to keep awake while driving and also to share driving when possible.
  • Try not to travel driving more than 10 hours in a day.


Now that we know about the symptoms, causes, and also ways to avoid driver fatigue; be very much careful and prevent self from any serious consequences of Driver fatigue.

“An accident will not arrive with a bell on its neck.” But we can try to keep away from accidents by avoiding conditions like driver fatigue. Kindly consult with your doctor to know about the best advices and preventive measures for driver fatigue.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 3, 2018

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