For many people, summer brings the promise of ample time off. Combined with agreeable weather, it makes the season perfect for road trips. Yet, sitting at the wheel for long stretches of time can fatigue motorists. If you find yourself yawning or nodding off after a day of driving, you are likely feeling the effects of drowsiness. You may try pushing through your tiredness. But you will want to think twice about doing, since it will endanger other drivers.
The facts on drowsy driving
Drowsiness contributed to 91,000 motor vehicle accidents in 2017. These collisions caused around 50,000 injuries, as well as 795 fatalities. Many happened between midnight and 6 a.m. Late afternoon was also a common time for fatigue-related accidents.
Drivers feeling the effects of fatigue are almost as dangerous as those under the influence of alcohol. Motorists who have been awake for more than 18 hours experience the same level of impairment as those with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05. And motorists who have been awake for 24 or more hours experience the same level of impairment as those with a BAC of 0.10.
Preventing drowsy driving
As a motorist, you have the responsibility to make sure you are well-rested before getting behind the wheel. Lack of sleep is the chief cause of drowsiness. And getting ample rest – seven or more hours per night – can keep you from dozing off while on the road. Many motorists try functioning on less sleep with the help of coffee. But its effects on combating drowsiness are short-term and negligible. If you take prescription medications, make sure you check their side effects, too. Some can cause drowsiness, and it’s safer to stay off the road after taking yours if it does.
Before embarking on a long drive, make sure you take the proper precautions to avoid drowsiness. While you cannot control other motorists’ levels of fatigue, you can make the roads safer for them – and yourself – by remaining alert.