The best way to drive is to drive alert and stay unhurt. Any other driving style puts you at a higher risk of drowsy driving and can even lead to accidents, and eventually death.
When it comes to driving, you should know that poor sleep can turn regular driving into a deadly one.
Drowsy driving is a huge problem in the States, with more than 100,000 Americans losing their life because they tend to asleep at the wheel. Driving is a serious task that should be performed carefully.
Being a part of traffic means that you are responsible both for your and other people’s lives. So, if you miss a night of good sleep, you are putting both yourself and others in higher danger of traffic accidents.
The Drowsy Driving Problem
Drowsy driving is a widespread problem, with the United States, unfortunately, leading when it comes to high numbers of death. The risk that comes with drowsy driving is alarming.
Drowsy driving is a very serious and dangerous combination of driving and fatigue or sleepiness. This usually occurs when a driver has not slept enough.
It can also happen because of various sleep disorders, many medications, drinking alcohol, or even shift work. So far, no one knows the exact moment when sleep takes over the driver, or when sleep takes over our body.
We all know that falling asleep at the wheel is dangerous and that it can lead to devastating moments, but being sleepy affects your ability to drive, think rationally and be active.
In fact, being sleepy affects your ability to drive safely even if you don’t fall asleep. Here is how drowsiness affects you:
- Lowers your ability to pay attention to the road
- Slows reaction time significantly
- Affects your ability to make good decisions and be careful
Drowsy Driving Isn’t Natural
Due to the modern lifestyle, busy schedule, and many obligations, people believe that it’s normal to drive when you feel a bit sleepy. However, drowsy driving shouldn’t be a natural part of life.
In fact, drowsy driving is dangerous. It’s similar to when intoxicated or under the influence of some drugs.
What Causes Drowsiness While Driving?
Drowsy driving is dangerous. People should have this saying printed on their car windows, just not to forget and to remind others how poor sleep can cost them their lives.
In general, drowsy driving refers to operating a vehicle while sleepy or fatigued, as mentioned earlier.
Even if the driver hasn’t consumed alcohol, studies have shown the effects of driving while sleep-deprived are similar to those of drunk driving, These effects often include:
- Slow reaction time
- Poor judgment
- Impaired coordination and attention
Scientists believe that being drowsy is like having a blood-alcohol content of 0.10%. As you may know already, having 0.10% of alcohol in your bloodstream exceeds the legal limit for bringing in all 50 states.
Don’t let people trick you that only drivers experience drowsiness because they don’t.
Everyone can experience the effects of inadequate sleep.
For example, teenagers tend to mess their sleeping schedule when preparing for tests, or college students when they are doing their best for the term.
So again, anyone can experience the effects of inadequate sleep, while certain individuals are more prone to drowsy driving. These include:
- Drivers of any large vehicles
- Shift workers
- Workers with extra long shifts
- People with sleep disorders
- People who take medications that cause drowsiness
Certain driving environments have a higher risk of drowsy driving-related accidents. In fact, the majority of drowsy driving-related accidents occur in the late afternoon or between the hours of 12 am and 6 am.
These times present a time when natural energy dips affected by our internal clock, an international body functions thats responsible for appetite, sleep, and other body processes.
Plus, many drowsy drivers don’t have passengers when their accidents occur, and the vast number of these accidents occur on rural roads and highways.
Luckily, there are some warning signs to watch if you are concern about drowsy driving. These signs include:
- Frequent blinking
- Frequent yawning
- Feelings of nodding off
- Having problems keeping head upright
- Difficulties remembering the last few miles you have driven
- Missing an exit
- Missing a road sign
- Having difficulties following other cars
- Following other cars too closely
- Drifting into the other lane
- Hitting rumble strips
Some people even experience ‘micro sleep’ – also a dangerous effect of drowsy driving. These lapses are short and usually last four to five seconds. If they are short, how dangerous are they really?
For example, if a driver rides at a speed of 55 miles per hour, a driver could potentially travel up to 100 yards before waking from their microsleep. So, simply said, microsleeps are extremely dangerous.
Did You Know?
- One in 25 adult writers will fall asleep while driving in the next 30 days
- In 2013, drowsy driving causes 72,000 crashes and 44,000 injuries
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Sitting behind the wheel is a serious decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Therefore, you should always focus on what you can do behind the wheel, and before you enter the vehicle.
Knowing how to protect yourself and others is everything. Luckily, there are obvious and easy-to-track warning signs that can save your life on the road, and you should be well-aware of them constantly.
If you notice any of the listed above factors, while on the road, here is what you could do to protect yourself and others:
- Pull over as soon as you can
- Find a quiet area where you can safely park
- Take the key out and lock your doors
- Find a comfortable spot in your car to fall asleep
- Let yourself sleep for at least 15 to 20 minutes
- Continue driving only when you are feeling well-rested
The most important thing is to listen to your body.
If you experience sudden sleepiness while driving or notice one of the warning signs listed above, you should drive as quickly as possible – that should be your focus.
You can always think about naps when having a busy day.
The best prevention would be not to drive when feeling too tired. However, thats not always possible, so think about roadside naps as an efficient tool to get your wakefulness on track.
What about coffee? People often think that coffee and other caffeinated beverages provide a long-term energy boost. However, the truth is that coffee and caffeinated beverages provide merely a temporary energy boost.
Once the effects of the caffeine have worn off, the feeling of drowsiness may easily return.
So, for an instant energy boost, coffee is ok, but not for safe driving because these drinks won’t provide enough alertness on their own.
What Can Increase The Risk Of Driving Tired?
Just like with any other problem certain triggers can increase the risk of driving tired. Some of them are:
- Heavy meals can make you sleepy
- Driving at times when you would normally sleep brings extra risk
- Strenuous exercise before driving can have a bad effect, especially for seniors and older people
Consider Other Transportation Options
Everything is easier when you have the right support.
If you tend to feel tired while driving, or getting drowsy behind the wheel, you may want to consider other – better, ways to get where you need to go.
Here are some other transportation options worth considering:
- Share a ride with a family member, a friend, co-worker, or a classmate
- Walk to your destination, if possible
- Ride a bicycle, plus it’s healthy
- Take a bus
- Use public transportation
- Use a rideshare app
- Call a taxi
- Join a vanpool or a carpool
- Work remotely
Top Sleep Tips
Nothing beats good sleep. No matter how hard you exercise, eat good or drink enough water, if you don’t sleep you are still harming yourself. So, make sure that you sleep well.
Did you know that while sleeping you are actually losing calories? That’s how powerful your body is when you provide enough sleep. You are not sure how to sleep well, or where to start?
Check these tips to start sleeping sounder and better. These tips, next to the right implementation will keep you safe on the road as well.
Here is how you can start sleeping better today:
- Learn how much sleep do you need based on your age
- Discover when do you sleep best
- Spend at least 30 minutes daily out in the open
- If you can’t stop drinking coffee, know that you should drink it between 9 and 11 am, always after your breakfast
- Walk a lot to reduce stress
- Have mini-breaks during the day
- Avoid screening at least two hours before bed
- If you have to use devices at night, install a blue light filter
- Eat healhty
- Drink enough water
- Exercise regularly
- Have a sleep diary
- Have regular medical check-ups
The Bottom Line
Drowsy driving isn’t safe. No matter what people tell you and how many tips and tricks you try to stay alert while driving, you should always repeat that drowsy driving isn’t safe.
Drowsy driving is so dangerous that it’s more dangerous than drunk driving. Try some of the listed tips and strategies to keep yourself awake when you drive.
Also, don’t hesitate to look into alternative transportation, because there is no shame in staying safe and alive. Don’t ignore your sleep, and you will actually extend your life and live better. Sleep well.