Just because its not illegal to drive tired doesn't mean you should put yourself at risk.
Employees should inform employers, or potentially DVLA, about a medical condition that could affect their driving. But fatigue cannot be so easily identified or addressed.
Sleep deprivation is a key factor in increasing the health and safety risks associated with employees driving tired, and can usually be attributed to stress.
During sleep, the brain re-balances both the immune and endocrine systems, so having regular and ‘good sleep’ is essential.
Even one night of sleep loss or poor sleep can put you at risk behind the wheel. Recent research indicates that driving tired is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Fatigue limits people’s ability to learn and to accurately interpret events. It can also affect perception, memory, or attention and especially response times – skills that are essential for reacting quickly and appropriately whilst driving.
Sleep does not occur without warning, and most people can recognise symptoms, but they do underestimate the dangers of continuing to drive. Warning signs include: increased difficulty in concentrating; yawning and neck muscles relaxing, making the head droop.
A ‘micro-sleep’ can occurs when someone sleeps for between two and 30 seconds without realising or remembering, it is often known as head-nodding. This occurs when people are tired but trying to stay awake and can occur especially on monotonous road environments, where the lack of interruptions or driver stimulation can be a contributory factor.
So if you are feeling yourself drifting off or yawning, pull over for a break, get some fresh air and get hydrated. It you feel too tired to drive it's because you are!