Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. This usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen due to untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, or shift work.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.
Here are six additional and shocking findings about the risks, dangers and, often, tragic results inherent with drowsy driving:
1. Drowsy driving crashes cost Americans $109 billion a year.
2. Drowsy drivers are 3.5 times more likely to crash.
3. Drowsy driving plays a role in nearly a quarter of fatal crashes.
4. After 21 hours without sleep, your driving is about as good as a drunk driver’s.
5. Between 10 to 20% of all large truck and bus driver fatalities involve a tired driver.
6. More than two in five drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel.
Are You a Drowsy Driver?
Needless to say, if you’re lacking sleep, you’re a drowsy driver. But here are some other signs that you should probably pull off the road and get some rest before continuing on your path:
- You daydream and your thoughts wander
- You rub your eyes and blink a lot
- You can’t remember where you are or where you just came from
- You feel restless and irritable
- You miss exits or traffic signs
- You are unfocused
How to avoid driving drowsy
- Diet right. You know how to eat healthily; you just don’t always want to! But keeping to a proper diet helps you sleep at night, which keeps you feeling well rested during the day. Avoid big, starchy meals. Stick with proteins, fibers, and good carbohydrates.
- Set up your ride. Before you get on the road, adjust all the settings in your car that will guarantee you stay alert and on the course: pick just the right temperature, seat setting and music to play.
- Trade with your passenger. The best way to drive on long trips is with a partner you can trust. Take turns every couple of hours with your driving “buddy.” ·
- Get a good night’s sleep. Making sure you get a great night’s rest the night (or day) before a long drive is the easiest way to ensure you’ll stay alert on the road.
How To Sleep Better and Wake Up Feeling Alert
Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Set the alarm if necessary. Sleep in a dark and quiet room. A dark and quiet room makes for the best night’s sleep. Wear a night mask to sleep if need be, or even purchase yourself some “black out” (light-blocking) window blinds.
Pick the right mattress. Everyone has their style of sleep, depending on a variety of factors (what position you sleep in, how much you weigh, etc.). It’s important that you find just the right mattress that will suit your particular brand of sleeping.
Reserve your bed for sleep only. Your bed is your sanctuary and should not be used for anything other than sleep or sleep activities. That means no working or watching TV in bed.