How to Tell When You’re Too Tired to Drive & What to Do.

How to Tell When You’re Too Tired to Drive & What to Do

Many people believe that driving whilst they’re a bit tired is ok, because they’ll ‘take it easy’. Sadly, these people are wrong. As driving when you’ve been awake for 18 hours straight makes you drive as though you have a blood alcohol level of around 0.5. No joke.

As many as 1/5th of accidents on the road in the UK are caused by tiredness or fatigue. In the US between 2009 and 2012, a reported 1 in 25 adults reported having fallen asleep at the wheel.

How to Tell You’re Too Tired to Drive.

Here we’ve outlined some of the most common ways to tell you’re too tired to drive. However, these are not the only ways to tell. So, if you experience something not on this list and feel you may be too tired to drive, follow the steps given in What to Do When You’re Too Tired to Drive.

You’re Struggling to Concentrate on the Road.

When your eyes begin to wander and you’re struggling to concentrate, that’s usually a good indicator that you need to rest.

Driving takes complete concentration. So, if you’re unable to recall the last exit, or read road signs properly, it’s a sign that you’re tired and struggling to concentrate. If you’re unable to give the road your full attention, you’re putting others as well as yourself at risk.


Of course, if you’re yawning, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re tired and should think about resting.

Although this point may seem obvious, it’s surprising how many drivers fail to notice when they yawn. Considering this is your body’s way of telling you that you’re tired, it should not be ignored whilst you’re on the road. Blinking more than usual is also a sign that you may be too tired to drive, and often accompanies yawning.

Driving Over Rumble Strips.

Also known as alert strips, sleeper lines, growlers, and more, these lines will create a vibration inside the vehicle along with a rumbling sound. If you’re hearing this sound or experiencing significant vibrations in your vehicle, you’re driving over one.

Naturally, there will be times in which you drive over these purely by accident. But if you find yourself driving over these several times in quick succession, it’s likely because you’re drifting out of your lane due to tiredness.

What to Do When You’re Too Tired to Drive.

Of course, if you’re too tired before you set off on your journey, there’s nothing to worry about. However, there will be times when you are midway through your journey and begin to experience signs of tiredness. If this occurs, you should immediately roll down your window to allow some fresh air into the vehicle. This should help to prevent some of the symptoms until you’re able to do one of the following:

Stop in the Next Safe Place and Rest.

It goes without saying that you should stop anywhere on the motorway – including the hard shoulder.

Find the nearest service station and park up. If you don’t wish to remain in your car, service stations often have seating/rest areas. No, these aren’t for sleeping…

Fresh air can also help prevent tiredness. So, if it’s safe to do so, consider having a walk and getting some fresh air. Getting your body moving and exercising may help to take the edge off and wake you up.

Drink Something High in Caffeine Content.

Coffee is something widely available at most service stations.

Equally, energy drinks are also available at most roadside service stations. So, consider picking up full of caffeine before heading back onto the road. However, we must stress that these drinks are only to be consumed as part of a balanced diet. And you should check all the ingredients before consumption.

Take a Short Nap.

It’s recommended you take a short nap of around 15-20 minutes. However, you’ll want to be careful that your short nap doesn’t turn into a full night’s sleep…

In 2018, a man named Chris Allen took the correct precaution and pulled into a service station for a nap. What he didn’t account for is the fact that, rather than napping for 20 minutes as he’d originally planned, he slept for nearly 7 hours. Chris, unfortunately, found himself paying a fine for being parked in the car park for more than the 2-hour limit. You can read more about this story here.

So, if you’re considering taking a short nap, ensure you’ve taken the correct measures to prevent your nap turning into a full-on sleep. If you’re one of those people, maybe set 400 alarms, each one minute after the last to ensure you wake up…

Who’s at Risk of Driving Whilst Tired?

When you drive whilst tired, you put more than just yourself at risk.

Along with any passengers in the vehicle with you, you also endanger the lives of those on the road alongside you at the time. Not only this, but any accident or incident you may cause could potentially block a route needed for an emergency.

When it comes to driving, you’ve got to think of the bigger picture. It’s not just about you. And when it comes to driving whilst tired, you’re putting many lives at risk. It’s not worth it, so avoid it at all costs.

How to Prevent Becoming Tired Behind the Wheel.

Before you set out on the road, there are several things you can do to avoid becoming tired whilst driving. These include:

  • Plan out your route with rest breaks included.
  • Don’t begin your journey after a large meal.
  • Avoid driving between midnight and 6 am.
  • Ensure you’ve slept enough before your journey.
  • Check if any medication you’re taking can cause drowsiness.

These are some of the main causes of becoming tired whilst driving, but not all of them. If you feel like something else may cause you to become tired whilst driving, try to avoid it at all costs. Failing that, perhaps think of postponing your trip or journey to another time.

Thanks for reading, and remember that you can read more of our blogs right here. Happy driving!