Avoid these risks or you may fall asleep at the wheel
Drowsy driving can impair reflexes and lead to disaster. Try these tips to stay alert.
Steps to stay alert while driving
Drowsy driving can impair reflexes and lead to disaster causing more than 100,000 crashes each year. Try these tips to stay alert. The struggle to stay awake while driving may be more common than you realize: more than 40% of people have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Fatigued driving isn't worth that risk: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 775 reported fatalities involving a drowsy driver in 2018.
Late night drivers, workers who had a long day or those who haven't slept well should heed warning signs. If you're yawning, blinking a lot or nodding off — or if you can't focus — think twice about getting on the road.
Steps to stay alert
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 less than six hours each night are at an increased risk of getting into an accident as those who get at least eight hours. It's even worse for those who sleep five hours or less.
- 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.
Smart tech combating sleeping behind the wheel
Though it's no replacement for a good night's rest, current automotive technology can help pinpoint signs of drowsy driving and help prevent collisions.
- Fatigue warning systems track your steering, blink rate duration and other behaviors and will alert you if they suspect sleepiness.
- Lane departure warning and prevention systems monitor your vehicle's position and react if you're in danger of drifting into another lane.
- Forward collision warning systems use sensors to follow vehicles in front of yours and may engage automatic braking to prevent accidents.
Drowsy driving can impair your skills, leading to potentially disastrous consequences. Learn more about the dangers of distracted driving.