Did you know that sleepiness and driving are a dangerous combination?
Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Like alcohol, sleepiness can slow down your reaction time, decrease awareness of your surroundings, impair judgment, and increase your risk of crashing which could harm yourself and others.
Simply put, don’t operate a motor vehicle when you are sleep-deprived.
Adequate Sleep and Planning
Falling asleep at the wheel is preventable! Here are some things you can do before hitting the road for short trips such as going to the grocery store, commuting to work, a visit to your family, or a longer journey like traveling to a neighboring state:
- Get the recommended amount of sleep the night before your trip.
While the feeling of a good night’s sleep varies from individual to individual, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and 8-10 hours for teens.
- Plan your long trips with a companion.
Why not share the travel experience with a companion passenger who can not only help look for early warning signs of driver fatigue but also help with the driving when needed. A good driving companion is someone who stays awake to talk to you and will be aware of your alertness.
- Schedule regular stops for your trip, every 100 miles or two hours.
Plan your trips ahead of time by plotting out the rest stops or points of interest along your route. Stopping every two hours gets you out from behind the wheel to rest a little or stretch to improve blood circulation.
- Avoid alcohol and be aware of any medications (over-the-counter and prescribed) that may cause drowsiness and impair performance.
Alcohol interacts with fatigue, increasing its effects — just like drinking on an empty stomach.
- Consult your physician or a local sleep disorders center if you have symptoms.
If you are experiencing frequent daytime sleepiness or often have difficulty staying awake while driving, such as at a stoplight or a long commute, talk to a doctor for possible diagnosis and treatment of a sleep disorder.
For more information about drowsy driving, visit the Drowsy Driving Prevention Week page to learn more.