Whether it’s booze-induced or fatigue-related, drowsy driving is not an option. And if you thought it only affects truck drivers, you’ll be shocked to realize it affects car drivers on a daily basis and across the country.
In 2017 alone, 91,000 police-reported car accidents involved drowsy drivers and these crashes resulted in 50,000 people suffering injuries. During the same year, 795 fatalities in car crashes were associated with drowsy drivers. And between 2013 and 2017, a whopping 4,111 fatalities were involved drowsy driving.
Most drowsy driving accidents occur early morning and late at night. You may also experience sleepiness in mid-afternoon.
Want to reach your destination safely? Don’t we all?
Read on to know what to do to remain alert when driving despite the distance.
But let’s start by looking at the warning signs of drowsy driving according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:
- Frequent yawning or inability to keep your eyes open
- Missing road turns or signs
- Drifting off of your lane
- Having trouble keeping the head up
- Inability to maintain your speed
- You can’t remember driving the last few couple of mile
Causes of Drowsy Driving
Here’s what causes drowsy driving;
Fatigueis one of the major causes of drowsy driving and can be experienced before or during a drive. It may come as a result of lack of sleep, the time of day, or time of driving.
Your driving performance can also reduce if you don’t sleep enough (recommended 7 hours of sleep every day or lack of one night’s sleep).
The time of day you’ll be driving can also affect your ability to drive safely. Nighttime driving puts you at risk of crashing compared to when you drive during the day. The body often has a natural clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Fatigue can develop when you keep doing the same task for a long time. This makes you lack focus and attention when doing the task. Since driving involves repeating the same sedentary behavior, this can cause drowsy driving.
Side Effects of Medication
A lot of medications can cause you to become drowsy after taking them. If you take them and drive, you’re likely to cause a drowsy driving accident.
Underlying Sleep Disorders
If you have an underlying sleep ailment or disorder that has not been treated, such as narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea, you’ll mostly experience severe sleepiness during the day. Narcolepsy makes you sleep suddenly, and if it catches you while driving, you can easily cause a drowsy driving crash.
Drowsy driving can be caused by those who rotate shifts at work or those who work night shifts. When in a professional such as a nurse, pilot, truck driver, doctor, business traveler, or police officer, you are likely to experience drowsy driving while driving home after work.
Drowsy driving can endanger your safety on the road. To learn how to drive safely everytime, enroll in a driving school in Brooklyn.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
It’s possible for you to feel sleepy or doze off while drowsing, because of the nature of your job, being tired or some other reason. But you can do something about it to ensure you avoid drowsy driving and arrive safely to your destination.
Here are a few tips of how to prevent drowsy driving
Get Frequent Breaks between Driving
Whether you got adequate sleep the previous night, you can still take a quick driving break after driving for two hours or 100 miles. If you are on a trip, plan it such that you have frequent stops to grab a snack or stretch your legs. This way, you’ll not spend a lot of hours behind the wheel.
Get Enough Sleep at Night
Getting lots of rest and sleep can help you avoid drowsy driving. If you’re having a long drive planned, like a trip or holiday travel, take the day off and get well rested for about seven to nine hours. By the time you start your journey the following morning, you’ll be energized and ready for your drive.
Get a Driving Companion
Having a companion in the car when driving can help you stay awake and avoid drifting into sleep. You can ask them to keep a conversation going and take turns to drive whenever you feel tired or sleepy. This will make your journey safe and free from accidents.
Don’t Drive Late in the Night
At night, most people driving are not very alert. They feel a lot sleepier and will be rushing home to get some rest. If you just finished your shift, it’s better to drive when the body is not feeling tired and sleepy; otherwise, you may likely cause a crash. You can decide to take a quick nap or stay overnight at a hotel before you drive back home in the morning.
Take a Caffeinated Drink
Taking some soda, coffee, or tea at a gas station can help you stay alert while driving. However, you should know that if you are a regular caffeine consumer, this may have no effect on your body. You can also opt for someone else to drive you.
Don’t Take Alcohol or Medications that May Leave You Drowsy
Don’t drink alcohol or any alcoholic beverages if you plan to drive. This will not only impair your judgment, but it’ll also make you feel sleepy. Avoid any prescriptions or any other medications that cause drowsiness, as well.
Put on the Radio
If you are driving and feel bored, you can switch on the radio and listen to an engaging program that’ll keep your mind alert and active. It could be your favorite news, audiobook, or music to help you combat drowsiness.
Talk to Your Doctor
It could be that you have a medical condition that makes you experience trouble sleeping regularly. A doctor can help you identify and treat the problem. It could just be a minor symptom of fatigue, a bigger problem like narcolepsy or apnea. It’s better to address the problem by receiving proper treatment, which will save you from causing an accident.
Drowsy driving comes with a lot of risks and dangers that may turn tragic if not dealt with on time. Since you want to protect yourself from getting into an accident while driving due to drowsiness, you should enroll for safety driving lessons at our renowned driving school in Brooklyn. We will teach you the best techniques to enhance your safety while driving.