Did you know that the National Safety Councilconsiders driving after 20 waking hours equivalent to driving with a 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration? Your reaction time and awareness level will be greatly hindered, but both begin declining long before that 20-hour mark. So let's take a closer look at the dangers of drowsy driving, the signs you may be too drowsy to drive, and prevention tips you can take.
How Dangerous is Drowsy Driving?
Driving while you are feeling tired is a dangerous roll of the dice, and the odds aren't in your favor. Statistically, you're three times more likely to be in a car crash if you're fatigued. Further, about 91,000 drowsy driving crashes are recorded each year, causing about 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths — and those are only the crashes where police can determine that the driver was drowsy. AAA estimates the real crash rate to be more than three times that rate.
So what can we do? Prevention starts with recognizing when you’re too tired to drive.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
You may not know when to draw the line and say you're too tired to drive, especially when life demands getting behind the wheel. So what are the sure signs you should pull over?
Inability to keep your eyes open
Trouble holding your head up
Drifting into another lane
Missing road signs or driving past turns
Not remember the last few miles
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, stop somewhere to get a caffeinated drink, let someone else drive, or take a quick power nap. Though it might be an inconvenience, driving drowsy isn't worth the risk. Don’t try to fight through fatigue if it’s impairing your ability to drive well. If you can’t give the road your full attention, you shouldn’t be on it.
10 Ways to Prevent Drowsy Driving
While identifying drowsiness when you’re already behind the wheel is important, there are steps you can take to keep the problem from happening in the first place, including:
Go to bed early to allow yourself a full night’s sleep (7-8 hours for adults, 9 hours for teens)
Have a set bedtime so you’re not disrupting your internal clock
Take short naps during the day when you feel you need them
Avoid caffeine consumption too close to the time you go to sleep
Drive defensively and be aware that there are other drowsy drivers on the road
Call for a ride if you feel too tired to drive at the end of the day
Don't drink alcohol before you'll be driving
Be sure you're not taking any medications that cause drowsiness
Try to avoid driving late at night
Avoid driving long distances alone, when possible
It’s not always easy to follow these suggestions, but doing so helps to keep yourself and other road users safe. Plus, you get to reap the other benefits that come with getting the proper amount of sleep.
Stay Safe and Alert on the Road
Ensuring you are well-rested is important to staying safe on the road. However, there are many other things you can do that are known as defensive driving techniques. To learn more about how to be a defensive driver, and potentially get a discount on your car insurance, check out I Drive Safely's 100% online defensive driving course. You can learn at your own pace, when and where it works best for you.
Check out the defensive driving online course!