Table of contents

Overview

Falling asleep at the wheel is a serious concern on our roads. Research has found that about 20% of fatal collisions in Canada involve driver fatigue. In Alberta in 2017, over 200 drivers involved in a serious injury or fatal collision were reported as fatigued or asleep.

Symptoms

Symptoms of fatigue can include:

  • reduced ability to make decisions
  • reduced reaction time
  • lack of attention and concentration
  • increased errors in judgement
  • increased irritability
  • difficulty keeping eyes focused and/or open

Fatigued driving is impaired driving. Being awake for 17 to 19 hours is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of 0.05.

Symptoms of fatigue can result in a driver:

  • being unable to react to something on the road
  • taking greater risks while driving
  • reacting more emotionally or aggressively to situations
  • blinking or closing their eyes for longer periods of time
  • falling asleep at the wheel

All of these result in a higher risk of being in a collision.

How to reduce fatigue

Drinking coffee, chewing gum or rolling down the window will not help you stay awake. There is simply no substitute for sleep. Here are some tips to reduce drowsy driving:

  • sleep well before long road trips
  • share driving with other passengers
  • eat light meals and drink plenty of water; overeating can make you feel more tired
  • take breaks every 2 hours or every 160 km to stretch and move about
  • keep the temperature on the cooler side; a warm vehicle makes it easier to fall asleep

Pull over immediately if you find yourself:

  • having trouble keeping your eyes open
  • feeling your head nodding
  • drifting from your lane

A short nap could save your life, or the life of someone else on the road.

Fatigue management program

Driver fatigue is a serious safety issue affecting the transportation industry. Carriers can put a fatigue management program in place to help address issues related to fatigue and to reduce fatigue-related risks and incidents. Every carrier can benefit from having a fatigue management program, regardless of their size.

North American Fatigue Management Program

The North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFM) is a tool launched in 2013 to help carriers develop their own fatigue management program. The NAFM was developed by a partnership of jurisdictions and stakeholder groups.

The NAFM is a free resource consisting of 10 learning modules covering a range of topics, such as:

  • developing a culture of safety
  • fatigue management education
  • risk identification
  • useful technology