Skip to Main Content

Start Of Main Content

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.

Man yawning at the wheel of a car

Drowsy driving is dangerous—how can you stay alert on the road?

Talking, texting, and drinking are all common car-crash causes, but there's a lesser-known accident culprit: fatigue. The struggle to stay awake while driving may be more common than you realize: 37 percent of people have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation.

Fatigued driving isn't worth that risk: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 803 reported fatalities involving a drowsy driver in 2016.

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.

State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates) is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites hyperlinked from this page. State Farm has no discretion to alter, update, or control the content on the hyperlinked, third party site. Access to third party sites is at the user's own risk, is being provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any of the products which may be referenced on such third party sites.

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.


Get a Quote

Select a product to start a quote.


Contact Us

844-373-0003 844-373-0003

Also Important

Driving Distractions and How to Avoid Them

Driving Distractions and How to Avoid Them

Texting is one of the most dangerous driving distractions, but here are 7 others.

Can You Drive Safely in Every Type of Severe Weather?

Can You Drive Safely in Every Type of Severe Weather?

It's helpful to know how to drive competently in every kind of bad weather.

Related Articles

Have a Teen Driver? Here's How to Help

Have a Teen Driver? Here's How to Help

Teaching your teenager to drive doesn't have to be stressful.

Avoid This Potentially Fatal Driving Condition

Avoid This Potentially Fatal Driving Condition

Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes each year. Learn how to reduce risk.

How to Drive Safe While Pregnant

How to Drive Safe While Pregnant

Safety belt adjustments, plus more safe driving tips for when you're driving for two.