Sleepy while driving? Here are some suggestions
You probably think you’re a pretty decent driver – and you may very well be. You try not to speed, you only occasionally text behind the wheel, and you always use your blinker prior to shifting lanes on the interstate. But it’s often the little things that sneak up on you.
Driving while sleepy might not seem like a huge problem, but it can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence. If you’re truly committed to being a safe driver, you need to address this problem.
What is Drowsy Driving?
Drowsy driving is the term used to describe a person who operates a motor vehicle when they’re too tired to remain alert. At best, it slows down a driver’s reaction time. At worst, it leads to deadly accidents.
“The U. S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving is related to at least 100,000 motor-vehicle crashes and more than 1,500 deaths per year,” SleepEducation.org reports. “About 71,000 drowsy-related crashes involve non-fatal injuries. The estimated annual monetary loss related to drowsy driving is about $12.5 billion. Drowsy driving often goes unreported when police complete an accident report. Unless the driver admits falling asleep, drowsy driving can be difficult to detect.”
Everyone is susceptible to drowsy driving, but it’s especially common among people who spend long stretches of time on the road – like truck drivers.
“Truck drivers are required to obey strict hours-of-service rules that are designed to prevent them from operating their rigs longer than they should,” Marks & Harrison Attorneys at Law explains. “Sadly, while most truck drivers are true professionals who take their commitment to safety seriously, there are those who put the public in danger every day by falsifying their driver logs and driving long past the point where fatigue has set in.”
Whether you’re a truck driver or you simply have a minivan full of kids, drowsy driving poses a huge risk to your health and well-being – not to mention the safety of others.
4 Tips to Stay Alert and Focused Behind the Wheel
Being aware of the dangers of drowsy driving is just the start. If you’re susceptible to dozing off behind the wheel, you need to implement practical steps to avoid succumbing to slumber. Here are a few pointers:
- Get More Sleep
The best thing you can do to counteract sleepiness is make a habit of getting more sleep. Adults are encouraged to get at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. This may require setting an alarm to remind you to go to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Consume Caffeine
Caffeine isn’t a good long-term solution, but it can provide some short-term benefits. Just make sure you’re consuming it in the right timeframe so that you maximize its effectiveness.
“Studies have found that the effects of a cup of coffee or a glass of cola are noticeable after just 10 minutes, but the peak caffeine concentration in the blood occurs after 45 minutes,” Science Focus mentions. “If you take the same caffeine dose in tablet form, the peak caffeine level will be the same but it takes longer – between 60 and 75 minutes – to reach that peak.”
- Pull Over and Rest
If your eyelids feel heavy and you have a hard time staying focused on the road, you should pull over immediately and take a short rest. A 10- to 30-minute nap can help restore energy levels and provide you with just enough focus to continue.
- Trigger Alertness
Everyone responds to stimuli differently. Get familiar with the different factors that help you stay alert. If, for example, music makes you sleepy, you might be better off listening to a podcast or talk radio. Anything that makes you process information and think critically is helpful for staying alert and warding off drowsiness.
Practice Safe Driving
There’s a lot that goes into being a safe driver. In addition to following the rules of the road and never drinking and driving, you must avoid getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when you’re sleepy. Hopefully this article has armed you with some useful tips and alternatives so that you can always drive safe!