The lack of a good night's rest can do more than put you in a sour mood. Drowsy driving can impair your skills, leading to potentially disastrous consequences.
A whopping 37% of adults in the U.S. say they've nodded off at the wheel at some point in their lives, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation. Those most at risk for driving while drowsy include:
- New and young drivers, especially men
- Shift workers
- People who sleep less than eight hours each night
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average there are 56,000 crashes annually in which driver drowsiness/fatigue was cited by police, with roughly 40,000 nonfatal injuries and 1,550 deaths. Besides accidents, sleepiness can lead to higher stress levels, slower reaction times and faster, more aggressive driving.
To help reduce your chances of falling asleep behind the wheel, follow these common sense steps to stay alert and safe on the road:
- Get enough sleep at night. Drivers who sleep only six to seven hours each night are twice as likely to get in an accident as those who get at least eight hours. It's even worse for those who sleep five hours or less—they are four times more likely to be involved in a collision.
- Pull over. If you feel bored, restless, are having a hard time concentrating or have tired eyes, you need a break. Pull over to a rest stop, stretch, take a short nap or switch drivers. Take a break every two hours.
- Adjust your car's settings. Stay more alert by keeping the temperature cool, playing loud, high-energy music, turning off the cruise control, and placing your seat back in an upright position.
- Wear sunglasses during the day. Bright sunlight can cause you to squint, making your eyes tired.
- Watch what you eat and drink. Caffeine and sugary products don't ensure mental alertness. Instead, opt for water or juice, and high-protein foods rather than heavier fare.
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The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm™. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.