Causes of Driver Fatigue

Many factors can contribute to drivers becoming tired, sleepy or generally less aware of their surroundings, a condition known as driver fatigue. While the name implies tiredness, there are other things that contribute to this dangerous and preventable problem. When people drive while experiencing driver fatigue, they have decreased reaction times, less awareness and a higher likelihood for accidents.

Infrequent Breaks

While driving for extended periods of time, it is important to take breaks, even if you aren’t tired or bored. For every 80 to 90 minutes of driving, stop and get out, walk around and get something to eat. Take your mind off driving and think about something else.

Lack of Sleep

People who drive after little or no sleep have trouble focusing, staying awake and reacting to obstacles or problems on the road. For several days before a big trip, try to get plenty of sleep. This will help you feel energized and healthy so you can focus and stay alert for your drive.


Road and driving conditions greatly affect the rate and severity of driver fatigue. Driving at night, in inclement weather or through construction zones increases stress and tires you out, lowering your alertness and ability to drive effectively. Your condition as a driver matters, too. Driving with any alcohol in your system can slow your reaction time.

Health Problems

Certain health problems or conditions can affect how quickly a driver experiences driver fatigue. Elderly or sick drivers have less driving endurance than other drivers and are more quickly affected by stress and fatigue. Chronic conditions like narcolepsy, insomnia or sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can prevent your ability to drive effectively for any period of time. If you have any medical condition that hampers your ability to drive, consult a doctor before driving long distances.