It’s pitch-black outside. The taillights ahead of you blur as you blink away your exhaustion from the day. Your bed is calling your name. You only need to make it another 30 minutes, then you’re free to rest your eyes.
One in 25 drivers over the age of 18 have fallen asleep while driving. It can happen to anyone for several reasons. However, learning how to avoid falling asleep at the wheel can save a life.
- Recognize warning signs: People often push aside their drowsiness while they drive. They may not realize how tired they are and how it can affect their driving. Yawning, frequent blinking and difficulty remembering the past few miles driven are all signs of fatigue. When these signs occur, it’s best to pull into a safe area to take a nap or ask your passenger to take over.
- Get enough sleep: Even though this is an obvious statement, many adults and teens don’t know how much sleep they should be getting. Most adults need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Most teens need eight to nine and a half hours of sleep. People typically get less sleep than their bodies need. To combat your sleepless nights, it’s helpful to stick to a schedule. Sticking to a schedule will kick start your body’s natural clock.
- Avoid substances: Many people use substances to help them fall and stay asleep. This, however, doesn’t work as well as people think. Alcohol, for example, interacts with your sleep schedule and causes you to have a restless night’s sleep. Beyond a sleepless night, substances can affect your driving while you’re awake. Over-the-counter and prescribed medications can impair your driving performance. This can lead to a dangerous drive. You should talk to your doctor before getting behind the wheel.
- Use caffeine: Using caffeine on occasion can get you home safely if used appropriately. For example, on your way home from work, a short-term boost can be helpful. The effects of caffeine only last for an hour. It can give you that extra push to get through your commute, but this shouldn’t be used as a long-term fix for a road trip.
Drowsy driving can be very dangerous and can impair your driving ability. With awareness and taking steps to avoid drowsy driving, you can drive more safely.