Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

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DenisA
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Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#1 Postby DenisA » Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:30 pm

G'day All,

I've had a couple of very scary experiences lately that I never thought would happen to me as I'm a very confident and careful driver. I've driven long distance my whole life and never had anything like this happen before. I've spoken to a couple of people who to my surprise have also had it happen to them on numerous occasion. I wanted to throw it out there in the public that this could be a real issue for a lot of us driving to and from prize meets. MICRO SLEEPS!!

Last weekend I got up at 5am to travel 1 hour to a range for some load testing. I'd had a busy week and only had 6 hours sleep the night before. I'd had a quick breakfast and 2 coffees and made it to the range with no problems. I shot from 8:00 through to 12:00 and hit the road. Needing to be back home ASAP for my daughters concert, I didn't stop for a coffee or lunch as I usually do. 3/4 of the way home I started feeling fatigued. I realised I was tired and turned the radio up and opened the window fully aware that I needed to keep my self alert. I was in 110km/h zone and while I was awake, I had an overwhelming sudden feeling of major fatigue and disorientation that caused me a sinking feeling through my body and mind and caused me to wobble a little and slow the vehicle heavily in concern. I was lucky that was as far is went, it could have been disastrous. I learnt afterwards that that's what a "micro sleep" is, that causes so many fatalities. They happen while your awake and apparently aware!!

This weekend I drove 3 hours north for a big weekend of shooting. The whole time the micro sleep being fresh in my mind. Had a great day shooting through Saturday in the hot sun. Well watered, good feed and a good sleep close to the range. Went back to the range up there this morning (Sunday) for 4 details at 1,000 yards again in the hot sun.
I left the range at 12:30. With the micro sleep experience still in mind, I stopped for coffee and lunch at the first road house and re-commenced my journey feeling great with a big bottle of water to keep fluids up.

I made it all the way down the highway (2 h 45 m later) thinking I'd done well. I was literally less than 5 kms from my exit when I felt this fatigue starting to set in again. A massive lack of concentration and disorientation. No sinking feeling yet. I pulled over to the side locked the car and had a short walk with my water bottle until I thought I might be O.K. I got back in the car and only made it to the exit before the fatigue was back again and so I pulled over again for a longer rest. Once again I thought I was feeling O.K and got back in the car. I only made it a few kms down the road before it started again but getting pretty bad now. Luckily enough there was a service station there. I pulled up grabbed a coffee, some sugary treats and gave my head a bath with ice cold water. After a much longer rest, got back in the car and decided to head to my sisters house which was only 5 kms from there. By the time I arrived, I was feeling very disoriented, light headed and very unaware. I really believe I could have had an accident if I tried to push through.
It basically took me 1 hour to travel my last 20 kms with all the stops I took.

The thing that scared the crap out of me is that although I was awake concentrating and aware of the danger, I couldn't control the onset of extreme fatigue and disorientation. And then even though I had recognised the symptoms and tried multiple times to keep it at bay, I couldn't easily recover even for a short enough while to complete the last leg of the journey. I'm home now without incident, but still feeling way out of sorts.

Looks like a combination of fatigue from a lengthy concentration through a long shoot, being in the sun (even with long sleeves, legs, hat and plenty of fluid) and a long drive.

Any way, summers here, the rural prize meets will be starting again soon and all our mates and family want see us safe and in attendance. Be aware that micro sleeps happen while your awake and feeling aware and once the onset of fatigues happens you CAN'T drive through it.

I'd love to hear other people experiences and I'd love some tips to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Drive safely and don't push the envelope,

Cheers.

Redhawk
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Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:24 pm

Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#2 Postby Redhawk » Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:43 pm

Denis

What you describes sounds like fatigue, but could be your blood sugar levels as well. Get to a doc and have it checked out dude. Could be something else as well.

I my line of work, we get “micrsosleeps” from time to time with truck operators, but in general the real reason range from low sugar levels, low/high blood pressure, cardiac issues, fatigue due to not enough rest and lots of fatugue due to sleep apnea.......

The 30min at the doc will be worth it.

Regards
Frans

DenisA
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Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:00 pm
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD

Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#3 Postby DenisA » Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:56 pm

Will do Frans. I had my annual check up only a couple of months ago and everything was great. I agree though, worth another visit.

Gerard
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Location: Rifle Range QLD

Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#4 Postby Gerard » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:53 pm

Thanks for sharing and it sounds like good reason to be very cautious. I second Frans's comment above, best to go see the doc as it could be sugar levels, or actually heart related and due to an oxygen level problem. I have first hand experience of that, and the symptoms you describe fit very well with experiences I had as early warning in that area.

Gyro
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Location: New Zealand

Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#5 Postby Gyro » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:05 am

My lesson from the same thing if you feel it coming on when your at the wheel is ADRESS THE PROBLEM STRAIGHT AWAY. If your on your own pull over and have a sleep. Even a short one will do it. If you're with another potential driver get them behind the wheel.

I work with a guy who can go to sleep pretty much anywhere anytime. I'm not much different and have nodded off at the wheel a few times. One time I woke up and was right off the road driving in the gravel on a big road that had a large graded runoff to the side. My wife was behind me in her car and wondered what I was doing !!

Other times were just very quick nod-offs ! Like the one at about 11 o'clock in the morning on the way to Trentham for a weekend shoot on Friday 10 days back. So my wife took over. Scary stuff and I'm not proud to tell it but ya gotta learn from these things.

So for me going to sleep at the wheel at any time of the day is very easily done BUT I always know when its coming on and now at age 59 fighting those feelings via winding down the window etc is playing with fire !!! Regards Rob Kerridge.

DenisA
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Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#6 Postby DenisA » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:13 am

Thanks for your experience Rob. I knew that the power nap is supposed to be a good option. I didn't want to become familiar with sleeping in the car and the stop, revive, survive moto was on my mind. Well that barely worked so if I feel it again, I'll have stop for a nap in the back.

An ex military mate of mine that I spoke to said it use to always happen to them driving in convoy. They were taught to pull over and do 50 plus push-ups or a level of excercise that's uncomfortable enough to get some endorphins flowing.

Appreciate your input.

AlanF
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Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#7 Postby AlanF » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:53 am

I had a "situation" of dozing off and leaving the road at 100kmph about 10 years ago. I ended up on the grass in the middle of a freeway. That was due to a cold and flu tablet that makes you drowzy. What I did learn is the danger of using cruise control in these situations - at least in normal mode you'll tend to slow down as you doze off.

I find that "powernaps" work, but you must actually sleep for a period, however short it may be.

coffeecycle22
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Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#8 Postby coffeecycle22 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:23 pm

Interesting DenisA, i'm a new shooter at NARC and since taking up the sport over the last 8 0r 9 months I have been really surprised at the level of fatigue I feel after a couple of ends and have been mapping it a little and comp days and high wind days are worse than practice days (although it's almost always windy at North Arm) I have experienced all the same feelings you describe when I was working as a dive instructor also. Low blood sugar is a definite attributor but you can't discount the fatigue concentrating brings. Being involved in emergency services, the biggest killer I have seen on the roads is fatigue related. If you are recognising the numbing effect you have let it go too far already, STOP eat, power nap, don't kid yourself that a 5 minute break will get you back on track. All the corny adds emergency service put out are bang on point. Stay safe and survive the drive.
Chester

DenisA
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Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#9 Postby DenisA » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:55 pm

I went to the doc today and amongst other things I had a blood sugar test, blood pressure test and ECG. Everything has checked out well. Some further blood tests are being done but just out of precaution. The Doc is pretty confident that it was fatigue.

I've been speaking about this to a few people today and its amazing how many have been through it and scary to see how many have left the road.

I asked my optometrist a couple of years ago why shooting makes me so tired. She explained that the constant changing of focus that we don't even realise is happening is controlled by muscles around the eyeball constantly squeezing the eyeball to change the shape of the lens. These muscles use a lot of energy, no different to any muscle in the body, only we don't realise its happening. Hence getting tired when concentrating and constantly changing focus at the range. I'm certain that being in the sun doesn't help and nor does the long waits often associated with a day on the range.

EWM
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Location: Brisbane

Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#10 Postby EWM » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:25 pm

Hi Denis.
You have sleep apnea. The same thing happen to me a few years back.

E W M

GSells
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Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#11 Postby GSells » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:47 pm

Denis , I’m glad u made it home safe and why I was so appreciative when Narc opm was on that Burnsy let me go early . Travelling 4 hours or more by myself after a challenging Rifle Range like northarm is very much dangerous if not kept in check . Eating and bit but not gorging on food before driving is important. A good night sleep before the last day is also important with little power naps in between details can help . I remember Cam Mac used to have power naps at times .

I remember driving to Brisbane to go to Dev squad after work was a huge grind for me . As even though I dive a lot for my job , it was only 30 mins to 1 hr . Driving 4 hrs straight was impossible or even 2 hours . Driving home after a day with Dev squad was very taxing ! Stopped many a time in a Toowoomba kfc to recharge again .

But you have highlighted a possible concern for RO’s with Country shooters who have to turn up to work the next day ?

johnk
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Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#12 Postby johnk » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:11 pm

Never done a long drive right after a shoot. I've always preferred to get a good night's sleep & take off at sparrow fart next day. There's a double benefit to that. You get a lot of road under your wheels while you're fresh & before the commercial traffic gets going.

It's all good as long as the skippies have left the road verge.

DenisA
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Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:00 pm
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD

Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#13 Postby DenisA » Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:49 am

EWM wrote:Hi Denis.
You have sleep apnea. The same thing happen to me a few years back.

E W M


I'll look in to that Ernie.

RDavies
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Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#14 Postby RDavies » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:58 am

This is a very relevant subject for myself at the moment and something I see the results of more than most.
Where I live and work (in mines, with long hours, nightshifts and long boring drives on straight "safe" country roads in modern cars) falling asleep at the wheel seems to be the biggest killer and seeing cars mangled against a tree or into the front of another car are a pretty common sight and likely to get worse. I personally know a few people who have been killed (or killed others) while asleep at the wheel and my younger brother broke nearly every bone in his body after falling asleep at the wheel and having a head-on on a long country road driving back home from a long shift.
Our current monthly safety topic at work is exactly this, fatigued driving. In the training day discussion It surprised me that this problem seems to be getting worse with modern cars. While the mines have always had long nightshifts and long drives home on open country roads, more mine workers driving the lastest high end cars with "safety" systems such as lane keep assist, active cruise control and built to do 250kmh on autobahns in deathly silence seem to be rocking more drivers to sleep. What others brought up was that human factors caused the problems with these newer "safer" cars. Most admitted that once they hit the big open roads with the low speed limits, they got bored, started filling in time sheets and service reports on the steering wheel, playing with iphones, or just got disengaged from driving and started day dreaming and falling asleep. I found the same thing when I got my new car with all the bells and whistles and silent interior and is one of the reasons I drive my 15 year old 4wd on nightshift which I found I was much more engaged sitting on the speed limit on the way home.
Luckily many seem to be getting the message and i am seeing more cars pulled over on the side of the road having a power nap until they get moved on again. I know i have been doing exactly this when i drive back from competitions these days, pulling over for a power nap or two whever i find myself becoming disengaged. Whereas previously i would only be pulling over for powernaps on long 12 hour drives home, recently i have often pulled over for a quick nap in the passenger seat even on a 45 minute drive back from Cessnock if my mind starts to drift. I might get moved on after only 15 minutes, but this is enough to reset my clock for a while.

DenisA
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Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:00 pm
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD

Re: Travelling to and from shoots and fatigue

#15 Postby DenisA » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:15 am

Thanks Rod. The 15 y.o 4WD keeping you engaged V's modern cars is a good point and interesting topic.

I wonder what the legalities or liabilities are if someone was travelling with firearms, had an accident and was carted off in an ambulance unconscious while the firearms were unkowingly left with the vehicle??


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