For many of us, the commute home is at the end of the day during dusk or as night falls, depending on the time of year. It is also after a good night’s sleep and (hopefully) a mentally stimulating day. Yet, for those ending night shift, the drive home may have been after only a few hours sleep the day before and when they are probably feeling very tired after a shift.
The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says those who drive home after a nightshift face a unique set of challenges. “They are vulnerable to both fatigued driving and driving with reduced visibility. Our internal body clocks mean we are much more likely to feel drowsy after a night shift than after dayshift. Coupled with reduced visibility at night or dawn, driving home after night shift requires extra caution.”
Follow these tips to help you arrive home safely and climb in bed:
- Ensure you take a nap the day before you start the nightshift.
- When you sleep during the day, you still need to get seven to eight hours to function at your best that night.
- Take measures to ensure your sleep is as restful as possible: sleep in a darkened room and put your phone on flight mode so you are not disrupted by calls.
- Be cautious of how much coffee you drink during your shift. Caffeine is a stimulant but when it starts to wear off, your energy levels will crash as well.
- Before driving home, use aids like music to stimulate you or maintain concentration.
- Avoid overheating the interior of the car in winter.
- If you are more exhausted at the end of a shift than usual, rather leave your car at work and call an Uber or friend to pick you up.
- Find someone who lives in your area who can drive with you and who can help you stay alert.
- Do not rush in an attempt to get home faster, rather maintain safe speeds.
Drivers can also follow these tips to assist with reduced visibility at night:
- If you struggle with night blindness, visit your local optometrist to see if glasses can help.
- If you are blinded by oncoming lights use the lines on the roads to re-orientate yourself.
- Keep your windows clean to reduce the effect of glare.
A recent study suggests driving home after nightshift, is much more dangerous than people think.
Herbert concludes: “It is impossible for certain industries to stop their nightshifts; however, it is possible to play your role in ensuring your employees get home safely. Whether this is by organising transport home for employees or arranging shorter nightshifts, it is our responsibility to ensure our employees make it safely home.”