10 Ways to Avoid Falling Asleep at the Wheel

Posted on May 22, 2010 

52.25 – Sleeeeep! by dichohecho

Tired drivers can be just as dangerous as intoxicated drivers, although not many people consider this reality when they climb behind the wheel in a sleep-deprived state. A sleepy driver has slower reaction times, a decreased awareness and an impaired judgment – all of which result in a dangerous combination. Mistakes made behind the wheel when sleepy can result in accidents that can seriously hurt you, your passengers or other motorists and pedestrians.

Drowsiness: A Dangerous Culprit

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsiness behind the wheel has been the cause of nearly 100,000 passenger crashes every year; at least 1,500 people are killed as a direct result of drowsy drivers, and nearly 71,000 people are injured every year. And don’t forget the impact drowsy driving has on current insurance rates and when contacting possible newcar insurance companies. In fact, auto insurance rates could skyrocket for an individual who is involved in a car accident that resulted from their drowsy driving.

Most states in the country have no laws regarding drowsy drivers, thereby making the task of bringing this problem to the attention of drivers even more difficult. It is important to recognize that most of the crashes and near-crashes blamed on drowsy drivers occur during the daytime hours, when roads are more crowded. Don’t assume that drowsy drivers are only on the cars at night. The fact that most individuals work longer hours and have longer commute times surely adds to this statistic.

Keeping Yourself Awake at the Wheel

There are a number of ways in which you avoid falling asleep at the wheel:

1. Stop the car and drink a caffeinated beverage if you begin to feel sluggish or sleepy. It simply isn’t worth risking your life or the life of others to get home on time.

2. Before getting on the road again, let the effects from the caffeinated beverage take hold. Rest during that time.

3. Allow yourself to get a good night’s sleep, particularly if you have a long commute time or a road trip the next day.

4. If you find yourself making long road trips, avoid making the trip in one day; instead, stay overnight in a hotel and drive home the following day.

5. Avoid eating large meals, particularly those high in carbohydrates, before hitting the road.

6. Don’t take any type of allergy or cold medication that you haven’t tried before. Instead, wait until you reach home to take your medication.

7. Avoid any type of medication that may cause drowsiness or that has a drowsy warning on its label.

8. Keep the car cool while driving long distances. If necessary, open the windows.

9. If you have a passenger, ask them to split the driving time with you on long road trips and use that time to rest.

10. Stop at least every hour to get out of the car and stretch. Moving and stretching will break up the monotony and allow you to remain more alert behind the wheel.

By taking advantage of these tips, you can stay alert behind the wheel – which is the safest way to drive.


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