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How fatigue and excessive heat affects drivers

How fatigue and excessive heat affects drivers

Being exposed to extreme temperatures or excessive heat while driving can have very similar effects on drivers as fatigue, which can increase the risk of being involved in a crash where someone is injured or killed.


The Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety in Queensland has produced a detailed report on fatigue and its effects on driving and road accidents.

A person’s physical and mental condition affects their ability to react to not only dangerous situations, but to situations in general. It’s often acknowledged that you're more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident when you're tired, angry, flustered, uncomfortable or exhausted.

However, few people realise the impact that heat and excessive heat in particular can have on safety, especially as exposure to heat can lead to all of the aforementioned conditions.

Besides preparing vehicles for hot weather, drivers should also prepare themselves for the hot weather when driving. Some of the main effects as a result of fatigue or heat-induced fatigue include:

  • Impaired performance
  • Loss of attentiveness
  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired judgment
  • Poorer performance on skilled tasks
  • Increasing probability of falling asleep
  • Subjective feelings of drowsiness or tiredness

Tips to avoid heat induced fatigue

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your trip.
  • Take a break of a minimum of 15 minutes every two hours and, if possible, rotate driving duties with another driver.
  • If using the air conditioning constantly, open the window every hour for 60 seconds to allow fresh air into the cabin.
  • If possible, try to avoid driving during the hottest part of the day, being from 12pm to 2pm.
  • While the vehicle is parked, if possible, leave the windows open 2 cm to allow the hot air to escape, and use a windscreen foil protector.
  • Working closely with your journey management centre (JMC) is extremely important during these summer months, and could be the difference between a serious incident happening and avoiding one.

Aspects to monitor include

Route planning and mapping. Not necessarily just driving the quickest route possible as, although this will limit exposure time in the sun, it may put the driver on more deserted, less-used roads. Therefore, sometimes planning a route that may take slightly longer but will have more time on better-quality roads populated with more service stations can be safer.

Planned and predefined regular check-in and progress reports. If the JMC manager is able to raise the alarm 15 minutes after the predetermined time of check in, this could be the difference between life and death.

The JMC’s ability to monitor vehicle usage and limit exposure of vehicles more likely to suffer engine coolant problems will also lead to a reduction in incidents.

Finally, besides preparing a vehicle for hot weather, the driver should make preparations in case of a vehicle breakdown in hot weather. Many of the preparations that should be undertaken in case of being stranded in hot weather are simple, common-sense precautions. Plenty of water, sunscreen and cool, loose clothing are some of the items that should be on hand in case of a breakdown. 

At all times, try to remain at your vehicle and not start walking in search of a service station unless you know for definite the exact location. Heat can quickly lead to disorientation and you could easily lose your way and increase your chances of severe injury or death in the extreme conditions.

 

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Tel: +1 877 585 1088

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For more information on our solutions, please complete the form below.

Address

750 Park of Commerce Blvd, Ste 100
Boca Raton
FL 33487
USA
Tel: +1 877 585 1088

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