Driving after a night shift can be a risky time and many people find a different way to get home to avoid a long drive.
We often get a sense of relief from completing our shift and handing over patient care.
For the first few minutes at the wheel we might feel fine but long drives should be avoided if at all possible after a long night, particularly those over an hour. There are some warning signs when we are getting sleepy behind the wheel.
We can start to have ‘microsleeps’ – these are fleeting, uncontrollable, episodes of sleep lasting a fraction of a second up to 10 seconds, seen when a sleepy person is trying to remain awake. Some people recognise the ‘nodding dog’ as their head drops forward.
Things like turning on the cold air in the car, chewing gum or playing music are things people often do when they are feeling tired to keep awake. This may seem like a good plan but needing to do this in the first place is another warning sign of sleepiness. It may be better to pull over.
Hitting the rumble strip, or a near miss on a recent journey are other warning signs for sleepy drivers. Make sure you and your work colleagues all get home safely.
This video shows a simulated driving test done after a 12 hour night shift.BBC Inside Out South – Sleepy Shift Worker
Driving while critically tired is illegal and & people have lost their licences because of this.
Driving after being awake 20 hours is equivalent effect of driving over the legal alcohol limit, which we would not do.
You may also find this poster useful.Wide awake at the wheel