Fatigued driving  

  • Driver fatigue is a contributing factor in 19% of fatal vehicle collisions and the main cause in 4%. It is the cause of about 20% of non-fatal crashes. These numbers are likely conservative, since there is no simple means to assess driver fatigue and drowsiness following a collision.
  • Across Canada, 500 people lose their lives every year due to traffic collisions that are caused, at least in part, by driver fatigue. 
  • If you drive when you're drowsy, you're putting yourself, your passengers, and others at risk. Those most at risk of being involved in a collision due to driver fatigue are professional/commercial drivers, shift workers, young people, and those with sleep disorders.
  • Fatigue slows reaction time – a very serious thing when your vehicle is driving the length of a football field every 3.6 seconds (as it does at 100 km/h). Picture this: if your reaction time is just 1/2 second slower, at 40 km/h, you will travel two full car lengths before you can begin to respond to a child running in front of you.
  • Fatigue also decreases awareness. Many collisions can be avoided through good situational awareness: being aware of traffic, bicyclists, and pedestrians around you and anticipating ways in which they may cross paths with you. If you're tired, you're not as aware of others on or near the road, and if you're not aware, you can't slow down or take other steps to avoid that collision.
  • Fatigue impairs judgment. In a 2005 study by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, 20% of Canadians polled admitted to falling asleep while driving at least once in the previous year. Driving a vehicle while fatigued is as dangerous as driving while impaired by liquor.
  • If you are a passenger with a fatigued driver, insist on a rest break at the next opportunity, and offer to take over driving if you are able and rested.
  • If you are the fatigued driver, look for a safe place to pull completely off the road, and rest. Until you are able to do so, use fresh air and conversation to help you stay alert. Don't resume driving until you are fully alert. Remember that in the first minute or so after you wake up from a nap, you will not be alert enough to drive safely. 
Some warning signs of impairment due to fatigue

Physical evidence of fatigue, such as yawning or fidgeting

Inability to remember the last few kilometres

Difficulty concentrating or in carrying on a conversation

Tailgating, drifting over the centre line, or drifting on to the shoulder