If you have ever gotten behind the wheel of your vehicle after a particularly long day, you know how scary and dangerous it can be to operate a vehicle while you feel like drifting off to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 100,000 crashes each year can be tied to fatigued driving. How can you keep yourself from becoming a statistic? Here are 10 tips that will help you remain alert when you are navigating the roads.
• Drive during times that you would normally be awake. While it may be tempting to make a long trip overnight when the traffic is light, you are more at risk of falling asleep during this time.
• If you have to drive a long distance, have at least one other potential driver in the car with you. You can switch off to ensure that the person at the wheel is alert.
• Check the label of any new medication that you may be taking to make sure that drowsiness is not a common side effect.
• Never drive after drinking an alcoholic drink, even if you are not intoxicated. Even a small amount of alcohol can make you drowsy.
• Get at least seven hours of sleep each night on a regular basis. Even if you slept seven or more hours the night before a drive, ongoing sleep deprivation can cause you to feel drowsy when driving.
• If you feel that you may be at risk of falling asleep when you are already behind the wheel, pull over and wait until you are ready to drive safely. It may be necessary to call a friend or family member to come pick you up. Your vehicle can be recovered once you are no longer tired or fatigued.
• Plan stops during long trips on the road. While you may want to make good time, a rest stop every 100 miles can help to keep you alert.
• If possible, take a short nap before you have to get behind the wheel. A 15-minute nap is ideal for rejuvenation.
• While caffeine should not be used as a crutch for alertness, it is preferable for you to consume approximately two cups of coffee before driving if you feel drowsy and have to be behind the wheel at a certain time.
• If you are frequently tired during the day and feel fatigued when driving, consider consulting your physician to have a sleep study done. You may have a sleep condition that causes you to get inadequate rest when you are sleeping.
While it seems we are all so busy these days, it’s important to make sure you are alert as you drive. Falling asleep at the wheel is dangerous for everyone on the road. Getting behind the wheel is a big responsibility, treat it as one and you will be safe as you head out in your vehicle.