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5 Different Causes of Fatigue for Drivers

— March 1, 2021

Always make safety a priority while driving to avoid any mishaps while on the road by getting enough sleep before long trips or taking breaks now and then.

Fatigue is the principal cause of road accidents every year. The majority of these mishaps are likely to result in severe injury or even death. When drivers fall asleep while on the road, they can’t swerve or brake, so accidents tend to be high-speed collisions.   

Although it’s not advisable to drive if you’re tired, certain factors such as logistics, weather, time constraints, or lack of alternatives might force some to do so anyway. Nevertheless, driving while sleepy or tired results in impairment of the ability to drive. It can compromise decision-making and the capability to control the vehicle properly. Generally, it’s a risk. With additional reading regarding driving safety, you can help avoid any accidents while on the road.  

When fatigue sets in, the driver is no longer aware of what is happening around him. It will lead to impairment of decision-making abilities and judgment while also slowing down one’s reaction time. As fatigue and drowsiness continue to increase, the driver is likely to lapse into brief periods of micro-sleep when they might swerve off the road or crash with another vehicle or any object adjacent to the road. Those who are prone to fatigue and sleepiness are commercial vehicle drivers and shift workers. The majority of commercial drivers are usually on the road for hours at a time, putting them at risk for driver fatigue.  

Even if driving is a part of life, there are several reasons it makes many people tired in spite of simply sitting behind the wheel. Let’s check out some of the common causes of fatigue for drivers: 

  1. Driving Time  

It’s important to note that the body is naturally set to sleep at night and stay awake throughout the day. The cycle is under control by the internal body clock or circadian rhythm.   

The body controls sleep at night, but there is an increase in melatonin production, a hormone that manages sleep during the afternoon. With this in mind, the common cause of fatigue among drivers is driving during times when you should be sleeping. Specific jobs will require one to stay awake and function against the natural body clock. As a result, drowsiness or driver fatigue will start to set in when driving home after work.

Cars driving in sunset; image by Mat Reding, via
Cars driving in sunset; image by Mat Reding, via
  1. Driving Alone  

Those who drive alone don’t have any form of interaction with a friend or passenger, such as talking, sharing driving duties, or detecting the early signs of drowsiness. Based on statistics, a high percentage of driving accidents in which tiredness is a factor involves a single driver.   

  1. Driving Scenario  

Driving on long stretches of empty road where you’re following a straight line can become monotonous. Lack of cyclists, drivers, traffic lights, and other road elements such as stop signs, school zones, and roundabouts can make the route tedious.   

When this continues for long stretches, it can make you feel drowsy. In a short while, your level of alertness starts to decline as you continue to drive down a straight line without any cars in sight. Additionally, sitting for long periods will slow down blood flow, which can put you in a sleepy mood.   

  1. Dehydration or Hunger  

Aside from fueling your vehicle before a long trip, you should also keep your body well-nourished. Even if you provide your body with a sugar boost, it will only be temporary. Sadly, once the sugar rush ends, you’ll feel more tired than before.   

When driving long distances, you should go for low glycemic food. This will help sustain you longer as it releases energy slowly and steadily. Don’t forget to bring along water to keep you hydrated as well.  

  1. Lack of Sleep  

Adults require several hours of good quality sleep every night. Sadly, not all can reach the necessary hours in a night. If you don’t feel fresh after waking up in the morning, it means you lack hours of good sleep. You have likely built up some sleep debt where you end up with sleep deprivation. Hence, it can significantly affect your reaction time. 


When driving, it’s essential to stay alert at all times. Sadly, if you’re tired while driving, you’re putting yourself and others at risk. There are several causes of fatigue among drivers, such as lack of sleep and not taking any breaks. Always make safety a priority while driving to avoid any mishaps while on the road by getting enough sleep before long trips or taking breaks now and then. These precautions will surely keep you and your passengers safe on the road.

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