Maximum Hours to Drive Per Day

Every year thousands of car accidents happen due to road fatigue. Drivers either don't recognize the signs of fatigue or they choose to ignore them. While there are no rules for private transportation, common sense is often a key factor. The maximum number of hours to safely drive per day varies from driver to driver and situation to situation.

Professional drivers

Professional drivers are allowed by law to drive 10 hours per day. Their experience being on the road every day makes them better equipped to drive long distances than other drivers. Taxi drivers, public transportation drivers and delivery drivers should not equate their abilities with truck drivers. Highway driving is not the same as city driving.

Social driving

A few facts should be taken into consideration when it comes to social driving.

  • Day time driving. In ideal weather conditions, it's acceptable to drive 10 hours per day, providing the driver takes regular breaks. For every three hours of driving, there should be at least a 15 minutes break where the driver gets out of the car to stretch his muscles.
  • Night time driving. Driving at night is completely different than driving during the day. Not only is there less visibility, which makes driving more difficult, but drivers should take more frequent breaks to keep their mind alert. The absence of sunlight in conjunction with the soft humming of the motor often causes people to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Recognize the signs

Learn to recognize the signs that you are in danger of falling asleep.

  • Frequent yawning
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Heavy eyelids and frequent blinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not remembering the last few miles
  • Swerving from lane to lane
  • Feeling irritable, restless or aggressive

Preventive measures

Prepare yourself before hitting the road.

  • Before starting a long journey, get a good night's sleep of at least eight hours or more.
  • Avoid alcohol and don't take medications that have a relaxing effect. When in doubt, read the label or speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Don't drive more than two hours during the day, or one hour at night, without taking a break.
  • If you feel tired, take a nap. Find a place where it's safe to pull over and sleep for at least 20-30 minutes.
  • Drive with a buddy. When you have a driving buddy, you can take turns driving and sleeping.
  • Drive with music and feel free to turn up the volume and sing along.
  • Keep a caffeinated drink at hand. Keep in mind though, caffeine is not a sleep replacement, sooner or later you will have to give in to your body's demand for rest.

While professional drivers have to adhere to legally-defined maximums for hour driven per day, you don't. You have to use common sense to know when it's time to take a break to avoid having an accident.

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