Deadly Tour – the sobering facts of Drivers Fatigue

“I just thought I was exempt from all of that stuff.” Damian said of his band’s tour van being involved in a near fatal accident caused by drivers fatigue with him behind the wheel.

“I don’t drink, I never party – everyone knows that. I’m always the go to DD (designated driver).” Yet after a long cross country tour with his band this past month, Damian learned he might as well have had a few drinks – that the severity of his drivers fatigue rivaled that of a legally drunk person.

The contributing factors of poor sleep, late shows and long roads had culminated into a massive sleep debt. It all came to a head when Damian, after being awake for over 18 hours on the last leg of their tour was pushing through the night trying to reach the band’s last venue. Unbeknownst to him, being awake this long was the equivalent of being a person behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.

The rest of the band had been partying hard the duration of the tour. Often times, Damian was the only person available even close to acceptable to drive them safely from one show to another.

“We thought we were doing the right thing. No one who ever had one beer or drink ever got behind the wheel – I was completely sober in that crash.” Though later testing did confirm Damian had not ingested any substances or alcohol that night, he was suffering from an equally detrimental case of drivers fatigue.

Making the same mistakes people often do when trying to stave off drivers fatigue Damian says he would open the sunroof and roll the windows down blasting cool air to keep himself alert. Various band-mates would rotate shotgun and keep him entertained from the front seat with stories and banter. Everyone blasted music, the sheer volume seeming to improve alertness.

“Almost every time we would gas up I’d grab a coffee.” A fact which could contribute to long-term adrenal fatigue that he may also have been suffering from causing burnout and lack of energy. The bottom line being, none of the above are solutions to drivers fatigue and are mere misconceptions.

“I know now the only cure could have been to just pull over and get some rest. We didn’t allow ourselves enough time to get from one show to the next it was unreasonable to expect anyone would be up to making that drive.”

Pulling over somewhere safe and taking a nap, as well as alternatively getting out of the vehicle for a brief walk could have helped stack the odds better. Nothing could have helped more than ensuring a good night’s sleep.

The band was lucky to suffer from only minor injuries and a few broken bones but were scared into better sleeping patterns and have a newfound respect for rest.

“Everyone knows drinking and driving is bad, but this drivers fatigue is pretty serious,” Damian says of the issue that causes over 100,000 car crashes every year.

“I guess its kind of like drunk driving – driving tired is just as bad.” He shakes his head. The band has finished their tour and is taking the next few weeks to recoup mentally and physically from the accident. They are working on penning a new song about and spreading the word in general on the deadly topic of drivers fatigue.