Driving While Tired: The Dangers and How to Avoid It
Driving during the wintertime presents a host of hazards; however, nothing compares to driving when you are tired. Drowsy driving can be just as fatal as driving while intoxicated, limiting your ability to react and decreasing awareness. That’s why it is important to understand the dangers that are involved in driving while tired.
According to the CDC, drowsy driving occurs when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also occur if you have an untreated sleeping disorder, if you take specific medications, drink alcohol, or work the late shift. Though no one knows the exact moment they are falling asleep, drowsiness makes drivers less able to pay attention, slows reaction times, and affects our ability to make good driving decisions.
An estimated 1 in 25 adults say they have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past 30 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that roughly 72,000 crashes in the US occur because of lack of sleep. Up to 6,000 of these are fatal.
What are the warning signs?
- Yawning or blinking frequently.
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles.
- Missing exits.
- Drifting between lanes.
- Hitting rumble strips or the shoulder of the road.
What can you do? If you do find yourself falling asleep, the best thing to do is to pull over and rest. Other tips are to roll down windows, listen to the radio, eat ice chips, drink caffeine, and avoid alcohol or medication. The best thing, however, is to always get enough sleep! For most adults, this is between seven and nine hours per day.