How To Deal With Tiredness & Drowsiness Whilst Driving

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

Many of us think we can cope with driving when tired, believing it is just a case of fighting off a little bit of fatigue.

However, driving while tired can be lethal and is the cause of many accidents every single year, some of which are fatal.

While you may not think you are tired, it can quickly creep up on you when you’re behind the wheel and before you know it you can find yourself drowsy and struggling to stay awake.

Before it reaches the stage of being drowsy, it’s important that you recognise the signs of tiredness first.

It can potentially save your life, and it will certainly improve your safety.

Just being fatigued can significantly reduce the speed of your reactions when you’re behind the wheel, so recognising these signs of tiredness is vital.

Heavy Eyelids:

If your eyes begin to feel heavy, dry or itchy, it may be a sign that you’re getting tired.

Losing Concentration:

If you find yourself daydreaming or losing concentration on the road ahead, you could be suffering with fatigue.

Blinking A Lot:

Increased blinking can indicate that you’re struggling to keep your eyes focussed on the road ahead.


Tiredness can make people irritable, so if you think you’re irritable, you may be on the downward spiral of tiredness.

Yawning Repeatedly:

There is no better indicator of tiredness than the age-old sign that is yawning.

If you spot any of these signs, then it’s time to do something about it.

You need to stop and rest at the earliest convenience.

Our step-by-step guide below will give you some more information about how you can conquer tiredness.

What You Will Learn

Driving when tired is incredibly dangerous, therefore it’s important that you guard against being tired and know some steps to take when fatigue does catch-up on your behind the wheel.

Our guide will give you some ideas for both of those things and we have presented it in our usual format, making it clear to follow and easy to understand.

Our guide will explore the topic through the following sections:

  • Step-By-Step guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

Our step-by-step guide is going to approach the subject of fatigue while driving in two ways.

Firstly, because prevention is the best method, we’re going to give you some steps that will help avoid being tired when driving.

Secondly, we will look at a few steps you can take if you do find yourself in the situation where you are driving while tired.

Preventing Tiredness When Driving:

  • The best prevention of tiredness is to sleep properly. If you’re taking a lengthy journey, it’s important that you sleep well the night before, ideally at least 7-8 hours of good sleep.
  • Plan your journey with breaks throughout so that you have ample time to rest and refresh yourself during your drive.
  • Do not drive after a large meal. People are most likely to be sleepy after eating a lot (e.g. after your Christmas dinner!), so do not have a large meal before driving.
  • Avoid driving on long journeys between midnight and 6am. This is when your body will be used to sleeping and your alertness will be at its lowest.
  • If you have medication that causes drowsiness, read the instructions and guidance before your journey and plan accordingly.

Fighting Tiredness When Driving:

If you find yourself tired when behind the wheel, the most important thing to do is to stop and take a rest. Find somewhere safe to pull-in and try to get at least 20-30 minutes sleep.

  • It may not be possible to pull-in somewhere immediately, so you’re going to need some more things to keep you alert until you’re able to stop.
  • Open some windows. Fresh air can be really good for waking you up and keeping you a little more alert.
  • Play some music. Playing some of your favourite music quite loud can give you a little shot of adrenaline and give your brain something to focus on.
  • Drink a cup of coffee or an energy drink, ideally before setting off.
  • Slow down! If you’re tired, then your reactions will be slower. Reduce your speed to something much more conservative so that you have more time to react.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Driving while tired is not fun, although for some people, it’s unavoidable.

In addition to the steps we have recommended already, there are some other small things you can do which will help reduce or prevent you from becoming so tired.

Here are a few of those hints and tips.

Travel With A Friend:

A great way of protecting against feeling too tired or falling asleep at the wheel is to travel with a buddy.

This can help to keep you alert by talking, plus he/she will be watching out for you.

Share The Driving:

If possible, sharing the driving is the perfect way of cutting down on fatigue behind the wheel.

If you can do an hour each, maybe two, and then rest when it’s not your turn to drive, both of you will feel much more alert and refreshed.

Do Not Drink Alcohol The Night Before Driving:

While there are issues with drunk driving, even if you only have a single drink, drinking alcohol before a long journey can make you drowsy 12 hours or more later.

If you have a long drive to do, avoid alcohol for 24 hours before.

Don’t Rush:

As the old saying goes, ‘better late than never’.

Slow down, take breaks and grab a cup of coffee (or other caffeinated drink!).

Final Thoughts

Fatigue when driving can literally come from nowhere and when you least expect it.

You can be driving for an hour or two and feel fine before suddenly becoming engulfed by a feeling or drowsiness.

To prevent this, always make sure you heed the advice given in this article.

Even if you need to stop and stay over somewhere for a night so that you can rest, it’s better to do this than risk causing an accident by trying to do it in one single journey.

Safety should always be at the forefront of your thoughts.

Further Resources