Now we can guarantee that at some point we will be driving in the wet, it’s time to reflect on a few fatigue issues that will affect you even more in the wet conditions. Let’s consider the outcomes of sleep restricted drivers that will be exacerbated in wet weather:
- Slowed reactions – In most cases, it takes a vehicle longer to stop on a wet road, so a fatigued driver will need to leave a bigger gap between them and the vehicle in front because they may react slower;
- Poorer judgement – A fatigued driver has poorer judgement, and this will be made worse in wet conditions due to reduced visibility of both you and other drivers who may need to avoid a crash. Don’t pull in front of trucks leading up to intersections (ever) but especially not in the wet;
- Reduced coordination – uncoordinated movements will be made worse in the wet due to slippery surfaces;
- Reduced ability to read the behaviours of other drivers – Other drivers will be influenced by pools of water on the road, or generally slippery conditions and can be unpredictable;
- Poor memory – when a fatigued driver starts zoning out they often forget parts of their driving plan, such as when to merge or leave a carriageway. This can lead to sudden attempts to manouevre a vehicle when they suddenly remember all too late;
- Decreased tolerance for other’s mistakes – A tired driver is intolerant of any mistakes, no matter how small and even if the inconvenience only costs him/her a couple of seconds of driving time.
Now that you might better understand how your fatigue behaviours can influence yours’ and others’ driving safety, consider a few other issues:
- Aqua-planing – Use of cruise control has been an issue for some people who found that their vehicle aqua-planed badly on the wet road whilst on cruise control. Wet weather driving is not a good time to test this theory;
- Use of a heater/demister – This generally puts heat on a driver’s face making them sleepy very quickly. Use the demister when you need to, then turn the heat down to your feet;
- Water spray from trucks and other vehicles. This is hard as you may find it hard to see and you must choose whether to slow down or use a passing lane to go past the vehicle, which has added risks of getting harder to see as you get closer. If it takes a few extra minutes to get there, then it’s a small price to pay compared to the risk involved in passing;
- Speed differentials – many drivers slow down in the wet while others use the posted speed limit. This causes a speed differential which places many vehicles at risk of crashing on multi-lane roads and carriageways. Be aware of this and be prepared for passing vehicles to be traveling at higher speeds, and
- Add more time to the start of your trip. Plan to get to where you are going early enough to grab a coffee or have a chat before a meeting or the start of work. Having spare time allows you to drive safer, considering all the risks on the road. It also allows drivers to drive to conditions and not attempt to speed to avoid being late.
One of The Risks of Not Treating Sleep Apnoea
At the end of brain awareness week I thought I might enlighten people on one of the many risks in not treating obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). OSA is a condition where the upper airway restricts breathing while asleep, causing disturbed sleep and serious physical issues. Research by Motamedi et al. 2017 in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, has supported what I have been concerned about for many years now. That untreated moderate to severe OSA may contribute to neurodegenerative disease.
I often reinforce how sleep allows the brain to be flushed and drained of it’s toxins, including B Amaloid and Tau protein. Both of these toxins are involved in brain issues such as plaques and the tangles of neurons. The researchers found that compared to people without OSA, those with moderate to severe OSA had elevated Tau proteins, indicating a high risk factor for neurodegenerative disease if the OSA is left untreated.
They also found that Interleukin 6 (IL-6) was elevated in people with severe OSA. IL-6 stimulates the inflammatory response and auto-immune process in diseases such as diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and many more. It will also cause increased body temperature which may worsen the effects of menopause (Wikipedia).
At the end of brain awareness week it is important for us to identify and treat OSA as soon as possible to live healthier.
Do you stop driving when you feel sleepy?
This is what it might look like when your eyes are struggling to stay open!!
Most drivers like to think they are in full control of their driving, even when they are feeling sleepy. But hasn’t every driver at some time woken up to find they are wandering off the road, or worse?
We have long known that the eyes are a pretty good indicator of falling asleep. Research by Filtness et al. (2014) had 16 drivers undertake drives on real roads and on a driving simulator both during the daytime and at night. At the end of each drive, ten eye symptoms were rated and compared with subjective measures of performance and actual objective driving performance measures.
The four key eye measures rated as symptoms of sleepiness were: ‘eye strain’, ‘heavy eyelids’, ‘difficulty focusing’ and ‘difficulty keeping the eyes open’. Whilst having these symptoms, drivers were more likely to report subjective sleepiness and have line crossings than those who did not suffer the eye conditions. Heavy eyelids and difficulty keeping the eyes open were involved in unintentional line crossings.
Most of us can feel these eye symptoms and could easily make it a rule to stop immediately that any of these eye symptoms appear in a drive. This research is useful validation for users of eye monitoring technology in-vehicles and can be used to set alert parameters.
Back to School – Kids & sleep
Only a couple of weeks away till our beloved children go back to school. But are they in a good place and the best version of themselves? Kids (especially teens) have possibly been pushing the boundaries of adequate sleep and it may be helpful to make sure they are sleeping well to go back to learning.
Ten Top Tips for driving safely over holidays
Beyond Midnight have developed and uploaded a number of posters for anyone to download, print and put up in the workplace or at home. Feel free to check out the “Posters” page.
TLIF2010A Apply Fatigue Management Strategies
Beyond Midnight Consulting will soon have the TLIF2010A course online. Modules 1 – The Science of Sleep, 2 – How Sleep Affects Mental & Physical Health and 9 – Road Transport & Heavy Vehicles, will be the required modules to fulfill the requirements of the learning. You should also do modules 6 – Shiftwork and 7 – Heat & Hydration to capture as much information relevant to truck driving as possible. To complete the TLIF2010A course, you will need to download the questions and workplace requirements and send them in to our partners at Barbaro Group. More information will come when the course is set up.