Driver Fatigue: Symptoms, Cause and Effects

Driving while fatigued significantly increases the risk of accidents. Fatigue makes any driver less aware of what is happening around them and impairs the ability to respond quickly and safely if and when a dangerous situation arises.

Fatigue-related crashes can happen on any trip no matter how long or short or what time of day.


It is very difficult for drivers to accurately assess their own level of fatigue.  The ability to self- assess is hindered as you grow more fatigued, however, the self-confidence to push through in this ability remains. Keep in mind that if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of driver fatigue below, it is very likely that your driving performance is already impaired.

  • Trouble focusing and narrowing of attention
  • Head nodding, or inability to keep the eyes open
  • Not remembering the last few minutes
  • Poor judgment which results in slower reaction time
  • “Zoning out”
  • Constant yawning or rubbing your eyes
  • Lane drifting


The root cause is not getting enough sleep, which can lead to a build-up of a “sleep debt” – this is essentially the sleep you ‘owe’ yourself. The only way to repay this debt is by sleeping.

Until you can catch up on lost sleep you will have a greater risk of having a fatigue-related accident.

  • Lack of quality/quantity of sleep
  • Driving at times of the day when you would normally be sleeping.
  • How long you have been awake (particularly beyond about 17 hours)
  • Time of day: your body and brain have a biological clock (circadian rhythm) that influences how alert or drowsy we are at certain times of the day
  • The quantity and quality of your last period of sleep


The consequences of driver fatigue can be disastrous.   Fatigue impairs mental processing and decision making abilities, and drivers can lapse into a “micro-sleep” without even realizing.  This may only last a few seconds, but if it coincides with the need to perform some critical driving task (e.g. turning the wheel or responding to a stop signal); the risk of crashing is greatly increased.

These accidents typically involve a single vehicle that departs the driving lane and collides with another object, such as a tree beside the road or another vehicle.  The driver is often alone, having been driving for some hours, often between midnight and 6am.  The consequences of accidents attributed to driver fatigue are often the most serious in terms of death, injuries and property damage because the fatigued driver makes no attempt to avoid the impending crash. This is why the effects of driver fatigue are so dangerous.

Drivers, always make sure you are well rested to avoid any accidents while on the road. With you can find customers that align to when you drive and what items you transport.   Hop on today!

Have any additional tips on managing fatigue while on the road? Leave us a comment below or hop on with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle Plus, and LinkedIn. With the new, shippers post shipments for free and drivers bid on those shipments. Sign up today!


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