How to Divert Drowsy Driving
In honor of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, learn how to spot the signs of drowsy driving behavior and how to prevent drowsy driving.
Much like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, impairs judgement, and increases the risk of a car collision.
In honor of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, learn the signs of drowsy driving behavior and how to prevent drowsy driving.
What Does Drowsy Driving Look Like?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define drowsy driving as a dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. Drowsy driving is often due to lack of sleep, but can also happen to do medications, ingesting alcohol, shift work, or untreated sleep disorders.
According to car accident lawyers at Manchin Injury Law Group, drowsy driving is significantly underreported, but is a factor in numerous car collisions each year; they claim it is arguably more dangerous than drinking and driving. They note:
"Although a drunk driver may be slow to react to changing roadway situations, such as a stopped car, a driver who has fallen asleep won’t react at all. A sleeping driver may not so much as tap the brakes before impact with another vehicle, pedestrian, or object. Drowsy driving, therefore, comes with a higher risk of high-speed collisions than driving drunk."
Signs You're Driving Drowsy
Common signs of drowsy driving include:
- Yawning frequently
- Difficulty focusing on the road
- Blinking frequently
- Rubbing your eyes
- Tailgating or driving too close to other cars on the road
- Difficulty keeping your head up
- Missing an exit
- Struggling to remember the past few miles
- Drifting, particularly between lanes
- Making contact with a rumble strip
7 Steps to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving is completely avoidable, yet nearly four percent of 150,000 adults in 19 states reported they had fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous 30 days. Prevent drowsy driving by utilizing the following recommendations:
Get Adequate Sleep!
Sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, but adults 18 and older should be getting between seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Evaluate Your Sleep Quality
Evaluate your quality of sleep and hours slept prior to hitting the road. Even though you may have gotten seven hours of sleep, the quality of your sleep may have been poor which will leave you feeling fatigued. If you aren’t confident you feel rested, don’t risk it.
Pass on the Booze
Alcohol is a depressant and muscle relaxant, which causes the body to slow down and restricts quick reaction times. Ingesting alcohol around bedtime can also promote melatonin production, which can have a sedative effect.
Hold Off on Medications
Unless necessary, hold off on taking medications that are known to make you sleepy; some examples may include cold & flu tablets, antihistamines, and/or antidepressants. If possible, wait until you safely arrive at your location to ingest these types of medications.
Opt for Lighter Options
Foods heavy with oil and grease can contribute to a lethargic, bogged down effect. Opt for something lighter, such a piece of fruit, salad, or wrap to keep you energized and alert on the road.
Schedule Your Sleep
You probably don’t think about scheduling your sleep, but depending on how hectic your schedule is, you may need to think twice before planning that dinner or working late.
Sleep is crucial to healing and resting your body and mind, so making a sleep schedule is vital. Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday can help get your body into a rhythm for the most productive days.
Road Trip Planning
Prior to a road trip, be sure to plan adequate breaks to keep you alert while driving. Stopping every two hours is the most ideal; be sure to drink some water, use the restroom, and stretch your legs. If possible, try to drive earlier in the day instead of late at night!
Whether you are planning a cross country trip or commuting to work in the morning, avoid operating any kind of vehicle if you are drowsy. Ensure you follow these tips to prevent drowsy driving reduce the chance of a serious car collision!