Have you ever felt sleepy behind the wheel? Yep, that’s right– driving when tired is exceptionally dangerous.

If you’ve ever been guilty of driving while drowsy, this post can help you to get back on the straight and narrow. We cover how tiredness affects driving, the pertinent laws you ought to understand and tick off with plenty of pointers on how to remain awake while driving on the road.

What does the Highway Code say?

If something’s an essential driving subject you can generally discover referral to it in the Highway Code, and driving when tired is no different. Have a look at guideline 91 listed below.

Rule 91

Driving when you are tired greatly increases your risk of collision. To minimise this risk

  • make sure you are fit to drive. Do not begin a journey if you are tired. Get sufficient sleep before embarking on a long journey
  • avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6 am, when natural alertness is at a minimum
  • plan your journey to take sufficient breaks. A minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended
  • if you feel sleepy, stop in a safe place. Do not stop in an emergency area or on a hard shoulder of a motorway (see Rule 262 for guidance on places to take a break when travelling on motorways).

This a subject deemed severe enough that it is discussed in the holy grail of driving manuals. Simply put, it certainly deserves your attention!

Is it safe to drive when tired?

As you have probably collected at this moment: no, it is not! When controlling a vehicle as big and powerful as a car, you truly require to have your wits about you. You must be able to skillfully control the vehicle, react quickly to changing road conditions and keep an eye on everything that is happening around you. The sleepier you are, the more difficult these things end up being.

A big problem is the truth that driving can really be quite boring. As a result, even if you just feel a little bit worn out, a smooth, relaxing ride can quickly tempt you to drift off.

There are, naturally, levels to exhaustion. You can’t always be at peak performance whenever you need to drive. That being said, you need to never take to the wheel if you’re feeling noticeably tired.

Is it illegal to drive when tired?

There is no particular law that dictates driving when tired. However, doing so substantially increases your risk of breaking the laws regarding harmful driving and driving without due care and attention. The charge for breaking either of these ranges from a fine to prison time.

It is also illegal to not inform the DVLA of any medical condition that makes you tired. If you suffer from one or more of the following:

Moderate or serious obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS).



Any other condition that causes extreme drowsiness for at least 3 months.

You need to notify the DVLA, or run the risk of a fine of approximately ₤ 1,000. If you fail to do so and are associated with a crash you can also face prosecution.


How many hours sleep should I aim to get before driving?

There is no set answer to this question due to the fact that everybody is different. The present basic consensus from health authorities is that individuals must intend to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you are a teen you require somewhat more
By the time you are of legal driving age, you should have a good idea of how much sleep your body needs. Of course, jobs, kids and general life can often get in the way of attaining ideal sleep.

How to get a much better night’s sleep.

If you are somebody who has a hard time getting a good night’s sleep, here are some things you can try:

Prevent caffeinated beverages after 12pm.

Get outside for some fresh air throughout the day.

Workout (but avoid doing do prior to bed).

Attempt not to take naps during the day.

Open a window to keep your room cool.

Do not consume a large meal within 2 hours of your bedtime.

Avoid looking at screens an hour before you prepare to sleep.

Take a warm bath before bed.

Spray lavender oil on your pillow.

Read a book in bed.

Stay with a set bedtime.

What about long car journeys?

Longer journeys present a little bit of a problem. You might be perfectly awake when you begin, however it is rather unavoidable that you will begin to get tired as the journey drags out. It is important that you break these journeys up.

Whether it’s stopping for a coffee break or pulling into a hotel for the night, make certain you offer yourself chances to rest and take your mind off the road. If you’re driving with companions, divide the driving obligations between you. This enables you to take a kip in the rear seat while somebody else has the wheel.

If you’re riding solo, limit yourself to a maximum of 8 hours a day of driving, with a lot of breaks inbetween. Our bodies are not designed to remain alert for this length of time. When on the road, be attuned to how you feel so that you can track your tiredness. If you find that your attention is beginning to drift, you’re yawning a lot or your eyelids feel heavy, it’s time to switch off the engine for a while.

Tips on how to stay awake and alert while driving.


  1. DON’T set off on a drive if you already feel tired.
  2. 2. DON’T eat a large meal before going for a drive.

    3. DON’T over-exert yourself prior to driving.

    4. DON’T plan a drive at a time you would normally be asleep.

    5. DO take a lot of breaks throughout long car journeys.

    6. DO drink caffeinated beverages before and/or throughout long drives.

    7. DO share driving duties where possible and take naps when the chance emerges.

    8. DO park your car and go to sleep if you feel you are too worn out to drive *.

    * if you can’t use a hotel, you can lawfully sleep in your car as long as you are parked in a safe place.