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Driver fatigue: no mistaking the signs

According to the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), driver fatigue is responsible for 84 deaths on average every year, which makes it the third leading cause of death on the road. That's on top of the 8,968 injuries it causes[1]. To prevent the worst from happening, it's best to pay attention to the signals you receive from your body and take a break to recharge your battery. Here are a few tips from L’Unique General Insurance on how to recognize the signals!

It doesn't matter how old you are: Anyone at all can fall asleep behind the wheel

Sooner or later, everyone experiences drowsiness while driving. However, some drivers are more vulnerable:

  • Those under age 25, because they need more sleep
  • Drivers over 50, because they often suffer more from sleep disorders
  • People with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
  • People who do shift work, as they often get less sleep
  • People who use alcohol, controlled substances and some types of medications
  • Professional drivers

A sleep debt can have the same effect as drinking two or three glasses of wine: It impairs our judgment and slows our reaction time. The most critical times of the day are in the early afternoon, between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., and at night, between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Rest up!

Rolling down the window of the car, turning up the radio, singing and slapping your face unfortunately have no effect on fatigue. The only solution is to get some rest. By recognizing the first signs of fatigue, you'll be better able to stop in good time. Here's what to watch for:

  • Yawning
  • Burning sensation in the eyes and heavy eyelids
  • Trouble concentrating and staying alert
  • Slower reactions
  • Difficulty maintaining a steady speed and keeping the vehicle on a straight course
  • Memory lapses (can't remember the last few kilometres driven)

Before you die of fatigue

It's definitely to your advantage to take a break every two hours and to avoid driving more than four hours in a row. If you find yourself nodding off at the wheel, find a safe place to stop and take a nap. Once you feel refreshed, you can get back on the road and drive for another few hours before bedding down for a good night's sleep.

Your insurance broker is there to help you prevent losses. Feel free to contact him or her!

By L'Unique - General Insurance    

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