A new study is raising the alarm on concerning trends among Canadian drivers.
Levels of stress and fatigue were reported in at least half of respondents to a Desjardins Group study. They also reported negative mental health conditions (54 per cent). This can be attributed to the pandemic that has affected many people’s lives, be it physical health, feelings of isolation, financial worries or career concerns.
What this has to do with driving is that more than half (54 per cent) of respondents to the study said they drove at least four hours before taking a break. A third admitted to driving while fatigued in the past 12 months. More than one-in-10 (13 per cent) said they’ve fallen asleep at least once while driving in their lifetime.
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) reported that fatigued driving can increase crash risk by causing inconsistent speed, frequent lane changes or weaving, sudden braking, failure to follow road signs, including traffic control devices.
The study further reported that two-in-five drivers admitted to ‘zoning out’ while driving in the last 12 months. Driving on long roads (67 per cent) and being stressed or concerned (48 per cent) were listed as the top two reasons their mind wandered while driving.
“Stress and fatigue have always been a risk factor for drivers, and the compounding effects of the pandemic have compelled us to contribute raising awareness of this issue,” said Valérie Lavoie, president and chief operating officer at Desjardins General Insurance Group.
Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of TIRF, noted that people think they can predict when they’ll fall asleep. That gives them a false sense of security when driving. “The reality is you can’t predict it, much like when you find yourself having fallen asleep while watching TV. The unpredictable nature of drifting off makes you and other road users around you extremely vulnerable to crashing, and the additional stress due to the pandemic compounds the problem.”