Do you belong to the 37% of drivers who have fallen asleep behind the wheel? It’s a dangerous, and common, occurrence: More than 20% of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. Each year, an average of 886 fatal crashes, 37,000 injury crashes, and 45,000 property damage crashes are due to sleepy steering.
In short, drowsy driving puts property, your car, and your life at risk. Driving while fatigued increases your risk of accident by more than 50%. And even if no one else gets hurt (many drowsy-driving crashes involve a single driver running off the road), you risk damage to your car and increased insurance premiums. Why chance it? The Sleep Foundation recommends the following tips to prevent drowsy driving.
Take a nap: Before going on a road trip, take a short nap. If you get drowsy while driving, pull over and take a nap; a twenty-minute snooze may save your life and others’ lives. Choose a safe location and keep in mind you’ll be groggy after waking, so don’t start driving again right away.
Take a buddy: Ask someone to share the driving on long trips. Switch every two hours. Take a nap when you aren’t behind the wheel.
Take your time: Safety first! Don’t rush to get there. If you’re delayed, pull off the road and call to explain. Better late than never.
Take the right beverage: Avoid alcohol before driving. Even small amounts will increase drowsiness. Instead, go for caffeine. But remember even strong coffee wears off after a few hours.
Take off at the right time: DWDs occur most often between midnight and 6:00 a.m. Try not to drive during these hours.
Take notice: Watch for signs that you are getting drowsy. Frequent blinking, heavy eyelids, daydreaming, missing exits/signs, yawning, lane-drifting, and feelings of restlessness are indications that you are committing a DWD. Pull over and get that rest.