Almost all shift workers can recall incidents of sleepiness while driving. They will say. “I remember getting in the car at work and I remember driving into the driveway, but I don’t remember anything along the way.” Worst case scenarios involve accidents and deaths.
You can reduce the potential for sleepiness incidents if you:
-Recognize sleepiness (head nodding, focus on hood of vehicle rather than road, not remembering key landmarks and intersections while driving)
-Stop and pull off the road when the symptoms of sleepiness appear. (Note that many drivers do not recognize sleepiness symptoms or think they can shake it off. Stop sooner rather than later.)
-Have a nap (either while on the road or before you get in your vehicle).
-Breathe deeply. Drink water.
-Turn head from side to side.
-Stretch big muscles from time to time.
-Keep vehicle cool.
-Use aromatherapy scent like peppermint or lemon.
-Chew on crunchy snacks like carrot sticks and pretzels.
-Vary your route home so that you must be more attentive.
-If you are carpooling, ensure that the front passenger stays awake and checks on the status of the driver.
Employers, too, bear responsibility for ensuring the safety of their employees while they are driving.
Employers can provide rest rooms for those who wish to rest before driving taxi’s or other group and public transportation options education about alertness strategies for driving juice or coffee at the end of shift.
New laws are holding drivers criminally responsible for deaths due to sleepiness accidents and employers are being held liable when their employees are driving tired after long hours of work. For everyone’s safety and well-being, practise alertness promoting strategies while driving and do not drive, even short distances, when tired.