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Tips on fatigue for older drivers

Tips on fatigue for older drivers

As part of our campaign to raise awareness of the issues surrounding older drivers in the UK and to offer support and guidance to those driving in later life, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, shares his tips on ways to stay alert and avoid tiredness.

Older people can be more susceptible to fatigue so tiredness can prove a real problem. Extreme tiredness can lead to micro-sleeps, whatever your age. This is a short episode of drowsiness or sleep that could last a fraction of a second or up to 30 seconds. A car driving at 70 mph will travel 31 meters per second, giving plenty of time to cause a serious crash during a micro-sleep.

The effects of losing one or two hours of sleep a night regularly can lead to chronic sleepiness over time. So, ensure you are well rested and feeling fit and healthy before you set off.

Make sure you take regular rest breaks to split up the journey when driving on a long, boring stretch of motorway. It’s good practise to stop at least every two hours and it’s essential to take a break before the drowsiness sets in.

If necessary, plan an overnight stop. If you feel too fatigued to carry on driving, then book yourself into a hotel at the next service area and sleep it off. Wake up fresh with a good breakfast and carry on your journey. It’s good to note that a caffeine high may be a quick fix, but it’s not a long-term solution and certainly no substitute for proper sleep.

Older people can get tired quickly, even when they haven’t been physically exerting themselves for long periods of time. So, avoid setting out on a long drive near the end of the day. It’s best to start your journey earlier, when you’re more alert.

If possible, avoid driving between the two peak times for sleepiness. These are between 3am and 5am and between 2pm and 4pm.

If you’ve taken prescribed medication, then seek advice from your GP as to whether you should be driving or not. If bought over the counter, then read the instructions on the pack or speak to a pharmacist.

Richard says: “Whatever your age, you need regular sleep to perform at your highest standards. Driving requires full concentration at all times and if you’re tired, your ability to concentrate is reduced. Internal body clocks (circadian rhythms) are usually set to deal with normal lifestyle patterns, so extra care needs to be taken when you’re driving during a time you would normally be at rest. Stop, rehydrate and rest if you need to. This is particularly true for those who are driving in later life, but the rule applies to all.”

For further tips and advice on driving in later life go to IAM RoadSmart’s website at and have a look at our video for more information.

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As Parliament shuts for a five-week general election campaign, the BVRLA is calling for the next Government to back the fleet sector by confirming the long-term status of its plug-in vehicle grants.

There is a broad political consensus about the need to transition to a net-zero emission economy and encourage more sustainable modes of travel. As the operators of the newest, cleanest and most flexible fleets on UK roads, the vehicle rental, leasing and car club industry is perfectly placed to help deliver these goals.

Focusing on three main areas - accelerating the road to zero, driving transport behaviour change, and tackling air quality and emissions today - the association’s Manifesto 2019: Delivering sustainable road transport highlights the vital role BVRLA members can play in moving towards greener, cleaner transportation.

Amongst the policy ideas submitted by the BVRLA is a call for the future of the Plug-In Grant for vans and cars to be confirmed. There are currently no concrete plans to continue this grant beyond next year, feeding anxiety within the market that the fund could be pulled at short notice. Until price parity is achieved with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, the grant provides a vital affordability boost for those purchasing an electric car or van.

As countries around the world compete in decarbonising their road transport, the BVRLA is urging the next Government to give a long-term Plug-in Grant commitment until 2025, gradually phasing out this support as progress is made towards parity with ICE vehicles.

The Plug-In Grant ask forms part of the BVRLA’s seven-point plan produced for the next Government’s first 100 days in office:

Extend the Plug-in Grant for pure electric vehicles until 2025.

Re-introduce the Plug-in Grant for hybrid vehicles as a short-term measure while supply constraints for pure EVs continue.

Target additional funding for the fleet sector to help with the costs of installing EV charging infrastructure.

Adjust CO2 related taxes to create a more stable environment to encourage investment in greener company cars.

Extend Future Mobility Zone funding for another year.

Create a Mobility Innovation Fund to help local authorities to develop new, integrated mobility services.

Establish a new 'Targeted Clean Freight Scrappage Fund' to help upgrade vans and trucks operating within the Clean Air Zones.

“The main political parties have provided lots of ambitious targets for reducing transport emissions and congestion but precious little detail on how this rapid transition is going to be achieved,” said BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney.

“In our manifesto, we have set out some clear, costed policy measures that will help tackle air quality, drive transport behaviour change and accelerate the road to zero.”

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