It’s a scenario that most drivers have faced at least once. You’re cruising down the highway late at night – eager to arrive at your destination – when your eyes slowly begin to close for a moment. The next thing you know, you immediately wake up after hearing the jolt of your car pass over a rumble strip.
Fortunately, you and your vehicle are fine because you caught yourself before an accident occurred. But often, other drivers aren’t as lucky.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at increasing awareness of sleep disorders, drowsy driving contributes to nearly 100,000 car crashes each year – 1,500 of which result in death.
As a result, the organization has designated Nov. 5-12 “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week” to educate the public on the danger of operating a vehicle while sleep-deprived.
While it’s obvious that those who drive alone late at night or work odd hours are at the highest risk for drowsy driving, research has shown that young men – specifically those ages 18-29 – are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel than women or older individuals.
This is because teens and twentysomethings tend to work rotating shifts, function on little sleep or engage in high-risk behavior, such as speeding or texting while driving.
In addition, those who regularly takes pain pills, an antidepressant or cough medicine are also more susceptible since drowsiness is a common side effect of those medications.
However, it’s important to note that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can fall asleep behind the wheel if they do not take necessary pre-cautions.
Know When to Pull Over
It’s not always easy to tell when you’re too tired to drive because most people think that they can simply power past the grogginess. But when it comes to your safety – and that of other motorists – you can never be too careful.
The most common warning sign of drowsy driving is difficulty focusing on the road, yawning frequently or having trouble remembering the last few miles driven.
Furthermore, if you can’t keep your head up, frequently drift in and out of your lane or feel restless and irritable, it’s probably time to pull over for a quick nap since your reaction time is delayed when you’re sleep deprived.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
The only way to truly combat drowsy driving is to make sure that you get the suggested amount of sleep each night based on your age and health.
However, if you must be on the road during your body’s peak sleeping hours, it’s recommended that you pull over every two hours or 100 miles driven, whichever comes first. Even if you don’t feel the need to take a power nap, stretching your legs and walking a bit can go a long to keeping you awake.
But above all else, eating healthy snacks and staying hydrated can provide you with an energy boost whenever you begin to feel tired.
Although drinking soda and coffee can temporarily help you stay awake, it should never be used as a substitute for sleep because of the imminent caffeine crash that occurs after the stimulants run their course.
For more driving tips, or to ensure that that mechanical components of your vehicle are in proper working order for your next road trip, call Andy’s Auto Service at 412-478-9304, or visit the website.