The Monday morning commute can be rough, especially if you did not get to bed on time the night before. However, you may not have realized that driving while sleepy risks your safety and the safety of others on the road, and can even be as dangerous as driving drunk.
Being tired can make you less attentive, can impair your decision-making ability and can slow your reaction times, some of the same effects that consuming alcohol can cause. Because of these effects, drowsy driving killed almost 800 people in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Even one night without enough sleep can be enough to cause a drowsy driving collision. However, you may have a high risk of drowsy driving if you have an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder, if you take medications that make you sleepy or if you experience jet lag from traveling across time zones.
Drowsy driving is preventable
The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to make sure you get a full night of sleep. You should sleep seven to eight hours every night. If you are still tired after a full night of rest, you may want to talk with your doctor to see if you should be treated for a possible sleep disorder. You can also check the labels on your medications to make sure drowsiness is not a possible side effect.
You may also reduce your risk of drowsy driving by timing your commute for low risk hours in the day. Driving late at night or early in the morning can mean that you are fighting your body’s circadian rhythm, so try to avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. Sleepiness can also peak in the middle of the afternoon.
You may be too tired to drive if you notice that you are yawning or blinking frequently, you cannot easily remember the past few miles driven, you have difficulty focusing on the road or you are drifting from your lane. If you notice any of warning signs of drowsy driving, you should pull over in a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap. You may also consume caffeine just before your nap to help get a short-term boost of energy. Rolling down the window or turning on the radio will not do much to keep you alert.
Drowsy driving can be hazardous for you and for everyone else on the road. However, by taking appropriate steps to prevent being tired during your commute, you can reduce your risk of being in a drowsy driving accident.