Many American don't get enough sleep. Aside from causing people to feel tired all the time, sleep deprivation can cause serious issues. This is especially true when it comes to driving.
Some might assume that drowsy driving is only a problem if drivers are taking long car rides. This is not the case. Driving tired for any duration can have the potential to cause traffic safety risks. Sleep-related accidents are also more common than you might think. Every year, about 100,000 collisions, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities are attributed to drowsy driving. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adult drivers polled admitted to driving while drowsy at least once in the past year, while 37 percent admitted to having fallen asleep while driving. Thirteen percent said drowsy driving affected them at least once a month.
What steps can drivers take to avoid becoming a tragic statistic? The following tips might help:
- See your doctor if you have sleep issues that prevent you from getting a full night's sleep every night.
- Avoid driving while on medications that cause sleepiness.
- If you are going on a longer car trip, take a driving buddy if possible to regularly switch places with you.
- If you start to feel tired on the road, pull over in a safe place to stretch your legs or take a nap.
- Pay attention to signs that you may be getting too drowsy to safely drive, such as missing exits, not remembering the last few miles you had driven, hitting the rumble strip or having difficulty keeping your eyes open.
- Do not rely on caffeine to keep you awake during long trips - caffeine may briefly make you more alert but is not a reliable way to avoid sleepiness behind the wheel.
You may not be able to prevent another person from driving drowsy or being negligent, but taking precautions yourself can help to protect yourself and others on the road.