Without a doubt, driving when you’re so tired that you’re falling asleep behind the wheel is extremely dangerous. However, a recent survey by AAA revealed over one third of people admitting to operating a vehicle while they could barely stay awake at least once during the previous month. So, what are the risks and how can you prevent drowsy driving?
Sleep deprivation simply means you’ve gone without sleep for too long. Although the amount of sleep each person needs varies, the average adult requires around 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to feel alert and well-rested. Lack of sleep can impair your ability to operate a vehicle as much as driving under the influence of alcohol can.
A study from the National Sleep Foundation explains that if you’ve been awake for 24 hours, it’s equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of .10, which is higher than the .08 the legal limit. Although there is no test for drowsiness, video analysis by AAA found that nearly 10% of accidents were caused by drivers that were drowsy or falling asleep behind the wheel.
Even though directions on most sleep aids advise users not to operate a vehicle unless they can get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep, it is reported that one in five Americans who took prescription sleep aids drove a car within 7 hours of taking their medications. Grogginess and slower reaction times are the end result.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Drowsiness is dangerous, often leading to the need for legal representation like these personal injury attorneys at Easton & Easton. Before you get behind the wheel, there are steps you can take to help ensure that you’re not drowsy driving.
Get Enough Sleep
According to the CDC, the average adult needs at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Make sure you’re leaving enough time to rest up, especially during long trips. Even if you’ve gotten enough sleep, long drives can cause a lull of sleepiness. If you’re feeling tired, find a spot to pull over and stretch or rest your eyes.
Know When to Talk to your Doctor
If you’re giving yourself plenty of time to sleep at night, but you’re still waking up feeling groggy or drowsy, you may have a sleep disorder. Other symptoms may include waking up frequently throughout the night, snoring, and restlessness.
How to Stay More Alert
Driving with a companion is a good idea. Not only will your passenger help you stay alert by engaging in conversation, but they can also provide a second set of eyes and let you know if you’re driving poorly or when you need to take a break. Furthermore, your licensed passenger can take over for you if need be.
It is recommended that all drivers take a break at least every two hours. Other signs that you need to take a break are frequent blinking and yawning, drifting from your lane, and missing a road sign or exit. If you are unable to remember last few miles you’ve driven, that’s a clear sign you need to pull over.
Get Some Caffeine
If you have no choice and must keep driving, consuming caffeine may help you feel more alert and awake. It’s recommended that a person get about 150 mg of caffeine. The best choice for perking you up is a cup of coffee, which contains 95 mg per 8 oz., compared to a can of soda that contains only about 46 mg. of caffeine.