How to combat fatigue as a van driver

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents young drivers, company car drivers, male truck drivers and shift workers are the categories most at risk when it comes to falling asleep at the wheel. Driver fatigue presents a very relevant challenge for those involved in fleet management. The UK department for transport funded research has revealed that men under 30 have the highest risk of falling asleep at the wheel. They simultaneously have displayed the most optimism regarding their ability to keep driving while battling tiredness.

While our lives are becoming increasingly busier with tight deadlines and long shifts, it’s imperative to remember that driving whilst tired impairs judgement and reaction time, so you may react slower, brake late, or miss a hazard altogether. Hence, it’s understandable that nearly 20% of road traffic accidents are directly related to tiredness. When you’re in the market for van insurance, it’s important to think about risks.  Let’s talk driver fatigue and how you can combat it. Here’s some key tips.

How to combat driver fatigue in the long term:

1.Implement a healthy sleeping routine.

Sleep before exam

Identify your personal sleep window. We all have our own mechanisms for inducing sleep and we all have different sleeping patterns. It’s important to look at your sleeping habits to see where you can make improvements. The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is between 7-8 hours. If your job involves heavy driving it’s important to ensure that you are reaching these figures regularly.

If you feel like you’re trying to reach this recommended level nightly but are failing to achieve the optimum amount of shut-eye then there are some things you can do.

Ensure that you get at least 30 minutes of sunlight and fresh air daily. This for example could include a walk before you start your shift in the morning or a walk on your lunch break.

It’s also crucial to cut your caffeine levels as you progress through the day, if you’re a coffee enthusiast it’s okay to have an extra cup but try not to have it too long after lunchtime or try switching to decaf.

While we all love scrolling mindlessly through our favourite apps before we go to bed, this is having an adverse effect on our quality of sleep. Turn off your phone, tablet or tv at least one hour before you go to bed. Consider reading or listening to some light music to help you fall asleep.

2.Don’t eat heavy meals prior to a car journey.


Heavy meals have a sedative effect. You know that feeling after you eat your Christmas dinner when all you want to do is take a long nap? Well any large meal prior to a car journey can have a similar effect because our bodies use energy to digest food. So, it’s best to eat a lighter meal if you know your going to be in the driver’s seat for a while.

3.Keep your car well ventilated.


We understand that on a freezing Monday morning all you want to do is turn up the heating as soon as possible. This however, is problematic for long drives. It’s vital to keep your car ventilated for the majority of your journey. Crack a window in the van so you have fresh air circulating. This will help to keep you alert and will decrease your chances of sleepiness.

4.Take regular breaks.


When you have a long journey coming up it’s important to take the time to schedule in regular pitstops. This will help you re-adjust your posture and will also help you to increase your alertness for the next stint of the journey.

It’s essential to remember that EU regulations require that you must not drive without a break for more than 4.5 hours. After driving for 4.5 hours, you must take a break for at least 45 minutes, this is mandatory.  You can however distribute that break over the 4.5 hours by taking a 15 minute break followed by a 30 minute break.

How to combat driver fatigue in the moment:

 1.Pull in and take a break.


If you start to fall asleep while driving, it’s important to take immediate action. Identify the next safe space to pull in and do so. Your GPS should have an option to find the next rest point or service station. You can follow this and pull in for a brief walk in the fresh air and a power nap. While it’s crucial to stop, it’s also important not to pull in on a motorway or the hard shoulder, as this could cause an accident.

2.Grab a coffee or a drink with equivalent caffeine levels.


Drink a large coffee or the equivalent in a caffeine drink. While in the long run coffee can impact your nightly sleeping pattern, in a scenario where you must drive for a long period of time and you’re feeling noticeably sleepy, coffee is your friend. If you don’t like coffee, drink a highly caffeinated fizzy drink. This will give you the short-term energy you need to maintain alertness.

3.Don’t substitute taking a break for louder music and infrequently opening your window.


Research has shown that when you are already starting to fall asleep while driving, opening your window or turning up your radio will not be enough of an effective step to combat tiredness. Ventilation is a key step for prevention, but it will not act as a cure. When you feel the signs coming on it’s time to pull in and have a nap and a coffee.

Tiredness causes accidents and van drivers work long shifts that’s why it’s vital that you do all you can as a driver to prevent it.

At we want what’s best for drivers around the length and breadth of the country. If you are considering insuring your van or fleet of vans then why not to reach out to to secure great cover for a great price.