Summer is the season where families take road trips to vacation spots and college students make long drives home. However, many people do not plan for the prospect of falling asleep at the wheel. Long periods of driving and lack of sleep can become a dangerous combination, not just for you, but for other motorists.
People experiencing drowsiness while driving have a decrease in alertness, delayed reaction time, poor judgement and impaired decision-making abilities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving has been the cause of 7,000 fatal car accidents in the last decade. Males between the ages of 17 and 23 (college students returning home for summer) and people with untreated sleep disorders are most at risk. Fortunately, drowsy driving is easy to spot and easier to avoid.
How You Can Avoid Drowsy Driving this Summer
There are several methods you can employ to avoid becoming a drowsy driving victim. Many tips involve common sense, but there are other methods that are not well-known.
Get enough sleep: Perhaps the most obvious tip is to get enough sleep. NHTSA recommends seven to eight hours of sleep the night before you make a road trip.
Don’t drink the night before your trip: Keep in mind, that alcohol can impair your ability to receive proper rest. A review of 27 studies discovered alcohol can interrupt REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is needed to feel well-rested the next day.
Consider having someone else drive: There are circumstances where you should consider having another person drive. If you take medications known to cause drowsiness or if you suffer from a sleep disorder, driving long distances can be dangerous.
Be vigilant: Pay attention to how you feel while driving. Look for signs of drowsiness, such as crossing over lanes or hitting the rumble strip (the strip on the very edge of roads that alert drowsy drivers).
Keep in mind, that caffeine is a very temporary solution to drowsiness. Nothing else can substitute a good night’s sleep. If you are driving this summer and experience drowsiness, pull over and find somewhere to rest.
The Colorado injury attorneys at Metier Law Firm can help people and families hurt by driver fatigue.