Drowsy driving is a form of distracted driving and can cause accidents that result in serious injury or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Drowsy driving is estimated to contribute to as many as 1.2 million collisions, resulting in potentially 5,000 to 8,000 fatalities per year.”
What are the warning signs of drowsy driving?
- Unable to keep your eyes open
- Nodding of your head from drifting to sleep
- Having wandering (a.k.a daydreaming) and not remembering how far you have traveled
- Erratic driving, such as drifting, tailgating, missing exits, etc.
- Burning eyes and/ or yawning frequently
How can I prevent driving drowsy?
The only way to prevent drowsy driving is to get enough sleep before hitting the road. Seven to eight hours of quality sleep can help eliminate the effects of drowsy driving, such as delayed reaction time, decreased concentration, and impaired judgment. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, the legal limit in all states.” Although getting enough sleep is imperative to avoid driving drowsy, there are times throughout the day when it is probable that you will feel sleepy:
- 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Midnight to 6:00 a.m.
What can I do if I become drowsy while driving?
If you find that you are becoming sleepy while driving, find a safe place to pull off the road and take a nap, or get out of the vehicle and recharge by doing some physical activity. Do not rely on the common tricks to keep you awake, such as turning up the radio, opening the window, etc.
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); National Sleep Foundation