It's common knowledge that driving drowsy is dangerous and is universally unacceptable.
Even still, almost a third of all drivers in a recent AA study admitted that at least once in the previous month they were so tired while driving that they could barely keep their eyes open.
We are busier now than we've ever been. Longer work days, stress, and running the kids around is exhausting. It's no wonder we're driving tired when we shouldn't be.
Another factor contributing to the problem is prescription sleep aids.
According to a 2018 consumer reports survey of 1,767 adults, one in five Americans who take prescription sleep aids admitted to driving less than seven hours after taking the pills.
Even though the directions on almost all sleep aids tell you not to take them unless you can sleep for at least 7 hours afterward, preferably eight.
Drowsy driving seems almost impossible to avoid. Public transit isn't available or reliable in many parts of the country, so even people with good intentions get stuck behind the wheel driving drowsy.
Sleep deprivation can impair your driving as severely as alcohol can.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that being awake for 24 hours straight is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of .10. .08 is considered legally drunk.
In the article below, we'll discuss drowsy driving, and the things that can help you stay awake behind the wheel.
Table Of Contents
- Before You Drive
- How To Stay Alert
- Stay Awake Out There
- Contact The Brown Firm Today
Before You Drive
Do These things before you get behind the wheel to prevent drowsy driving.
Get Adequate Sleep
According to the CDC, at least 7 hours of sleep every night is what the average adult needs. Be sure to get as much sleep as possible before you hop behind the wheel and head to work.
Talk To Your Doctor
If you're sleeping enough but you're still tired during the day, wake up constantly during the night, or your partner complains about your snoring, talk to your doctor about having a sleep disorder.
Even if you appear to be getting enough sleep, you could still be at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel if your sleep is low quality or you have a health condition that is affecting your sleep.
People with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to feel tired while driving, even if they did get 7 hours of sleep.
Check Your Medications
You should also talk to your doctor about your medications. Many drugs, including antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, muscle relaxers, and anxiety drugs can make you drowsy.
Some medicines can interact with other medicines you take to cause fatigue.
Your doctor can change your regimen to decrease the likelihood that you'll fall asleep while driving.
Prepare For Long Drives
If you have a long drive you need to make be sure to prepare for it.
Get more than enough sleep, because hours on the road can lull you to sleep.
To Stay Alert
If you want to do all you can to stay alert while driving, try out some of the following tips.
Get A Driving Buddy
Having someone with you that can take over as the driver if you feel tired is an excellent idea if you can do it.
Carpool to work, or find someone to tag along with you during that long road trip.
And while you're driving, they can talk to you to keep you engaged, and keep an eye on your driving to be sure it doesn't become too erratic.
Even if you feel fresh and alert, every driver should take a break every two hours.
Drowsy people are unlikely to realize they're driving drowsy, so taking a break every two hours will prevent you from falling asleep before you even realize you're tired.
While you drive, pay close attention to these signs that may indicate you're driving while drowsy:
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road
- Drifting in an out of your lane
- You don't remember the last few minutes of driving
- Heavy eyelids
- Blinking or yawning frequently
- Missing an exit
Get Some Caffeine
If napping isn't an option, a dose of caffeine will help keep you alert and awake for a few hours.
Even if you have had a nap, if you have a long drive ahead of you, caffeine is still a good idea.
There are a few options here when it comes to caffeine, but coffee is your best bet.
Give the coffee at least 15 minutes to kick in before you start driving.
If you get tired while driving, find somewhere safe to pull off the road, like a rest stop, to take a quick power nap in your car.
Wait about five minutes to start driving again after you wake up to be sure you're fully alert.
Also, make sure you set an alarm to wake you up after twenty minutes.
Sleeping any longer than that can make you feel groggy and disoriented for up to 30 minutes after you wake up.
Stay Awake Out There
Driving is dangerous enough as it is, the last thing you need to do is get behind the wheel of a car while you're tired.
Use the tips and tricks above to stay awake while you drive so you give yourself the best chance to make it from point A to point B safely.
And, just because you've driven drowsy before and gotten away with it, doesn't mean you will the next time.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there about 100,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy driving every year.
These crashes result in more than 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries.
However, the real number may be much higher, because it's difficult to determine whether a driver was drowsy at the time of a crash.
Contact The Brown Firm Today
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident due to a drowsy driver, contact The Brown Firm today.
The team at The Brown Firm have years of knowledge and experience helping people involved in auto accidents and they are ready to help you today.
Click the button below to get started.