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Falling Asleep at the Wheel - The Consequences of Driving While Tired

Updated on September 14, 2018
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John is passionate about human and animal rights, social justice, equality, and the environment, and likes to convey that in his writing.


Driving Tired

Most of us drive cars and so can relate how easy it is to become sleepy while driving after a long day at work or when driving long distances. Speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol are the two causes of accidents which gets the most publicity and are the offences that generate safety campaigns, but going to sleep at the wheel is an equally serious problem.

"From 2004 to 2010, almost one in seven fatalities were as a result of fatigue related crashes within Queensland, Australia.

It is important to recognise the warning signs of fatigue and take appropriate action. If you know you'll be tired, plan ahead and arrange alternative transport. Being awake for more than 16 hours is similar to having drunk more than two standard drinks (and having a blood alcohol content of more than 0.05). So don't put yourself at risk." (source: Queensland Government Dept. of Transport and Main Roads)


The Weary Trucker

The highway stretched before him,

Twelve hours upon the road.

The midnight hour approaches.

A deadline on his load.

He stopped to grab a bite to eat

At a truckstop ten miles back.

Strong coffee helps him stay awake

So his time is still on track.

The CB statics "Come in Tin Man,

It's Base here, do you read?"

"10-4 Base, I'm right on time,

I drive to meet your need."

A bonus waits if load's on time,

He really needs the cash.

Incentive high to forsake sleep

And even risk a crash.

There is a roadblock up ahead,

The air-brakes screech and hiss.

He hopes the hold-up isn't long,

The deadline he can't miss.

An officer approaches,

"The bridge is out ahead,

You'll have to take a detour."

The trucker nods his head.

He swings into the off-road,

The big rig groans and sways.

He swears expletives to himself,

Not needing this delay.


Warning signs of tiredness

Signs of tiredness include:

  • yawning
  • sore or heavy eyes
  • dim or fuzzy vision
  • you start 'seeing' things humming in ears
  • general tiredness
  • stiffness and cramps
  • back aches and pains
  • day dreaming
  • delayed reaction times
  • unintentional increases or decreases in speed
  • fumbling for gear changes
  • car wandering across the road.

Twelve miles extra to the trip,

He glances at his watch.

Be pushing it to make up time,

But he'll give it a good shot.

He guns the engine to top speed

Despite the heavy load.

Miles slip by in minutes

As the truck engulfs the road.

The trucker's getting weary,

He pops a few 'nodoze'.

Just another hour or so

Then he'll be home and hosed.

Head nods for just a second,

~ an approaching car ahead! ~

He hits the breaks, but much too late,

The two crash head to head.

The truck is barely damaged,

The car a crumpled wreck.

The trucker climbs down from his rig

With just a whip-lashed neck.

He checks the car for any life,

A moan comes from inside.

The driver's door is mangled,

And can't be opened wide.

"Mayday, mayday!"

Tin Man calls,

"Crash on Highway One.

Hurry, this is life or death,

Get me 911."

Methods to Help You Stay Awake While Driving

  • Take frequent rest stops (at least every hour, or earlier if drowsy)
  • Have an insulated flask of tea or coffee with you
  • Listen to music or the radio
  • Buy a caffeinated drink e.g. iced coffee (energy drink as last resort)
  • If you have a passenger have them engage you in conversation
  • Break your journey. Stop in a motel etc for the night
  • Get plenty of sleep before you set out on a long journey

He rushes back towards the wreck

And tries the other doors.

The distinctive smell of gasoline

Hastening the cause.

The left rear door yanks open.

The whole thing seems surreal.

He grabs the driver by the arm

But he's wedged behind the wheel.

There are no other passengers,

But this guy will soon be dead.

Where the hell are the police?

There's a pounding in his head.


The last thing he remembers

Are the sirens and the lights.

As soon as other help arrives

His mind gives up the fight.

On waking in the hospital,

"Where am I?" Tin Man said.

"You have concussion," said the nurse.

"Just lucky you're not dead."

His memory was coming back,

The horrors of last night.

"And the driver of the car,

Is he gonna be alright?"

"His condition's very critical.

It still is touch and go.

That's all that I can tell you,

The police are here you know."


Trucker Arrested for Dangerous Driving

by: John Hansen

A 37 year old truck driver from Brisbane has been charged with dangerous driving after allegedly falling asleep at the wheel and causing the subsequent death of 49 year old Townsville man John William McMahon.

The accident happened in the early hours of Friday morning on the Bruce Highway (Highway One) on an open stretch of road between Ayr and Townsville.

~ the cause of the accident appears to have been the driver of the truck having gone to sleep at the wheel ~


Police investigators reveal that the cause of the accident appears to have been the driver of the truck having gone to sleep at the wheel causing the truck to veer onto the wrong side of the road in front of oncoming traffic (namely the sedan being driven by John McMahon).

Timothy Arthur Manna is due to appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court on 30th October for sentencing.

Admitted Discrepancy

For the benefit of other Australian readers.

I admit the discrepancy in the Emergency telephone number being "911" in the poem. I know our emergency number in Australia is "000" but most of the readers on Hub Pages are American, besides "911" fit the rhyme and I couldn't get "000" to do so. :)

Also I don't know if the "Home News" is actually a real newspaper or where it is located. If it is I hereby state that this story is totally fiction and did not actually appear in that newspaper.

© 2014 John Hansen


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