According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 800 people were killed in 2017 because of drowsy driving. Yet, many people still do not realize how dangerous drowsy driving can be.
Falling asleep at the wheel can obviously lead to accidents. However, driving while tired can be dangerous even if you do not fall asleep at the wheel. When you are tired, you may be less attentive to the road, you may have a slower reaction time and you may have a reduced ability to make good decisions. These are some of the same impairments you would have if you were driving drunk.
Know when you are too tired to drive
You may be too tired to drive if you are yawning or blinking frequently. Also, you are probably too tired to drive if you keep missing your exit, if you catch yourself drifting from your lane or if you have a hard time remembering the past few miles driven.
Although everyone should be able to recognize when they are too tired to drive, some drivers may have a higher risk for drowsy driving than others. Drivers with a higher risk can include:
- Commercial drivers
- Shift workers
- People with untreated sleep disorders
- People who use medications that make them tired
Take steps to prevent being drowsy when you drive
The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. However, if you still feel tired after a full night’s sleep, you may benefit from talking to your doctor. You could have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, or your medications could be making you drowsy.
If possible, try to avoid driving late at night or early in the morning during your body’s natural sleep period. If you work a late shift, consider having someone give you a ride home.
Drowsy driving can be a danger to you and to others on the road. However, by getting enough sleep and taking other appropriate steps, you can help reduce your risk of being involved in a drowsy driving accident.