Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel
We’ve all heard of the terrors of driving under the influence; alcohol, prescription drugs and/or marijuana are all illegal substances to consume while operating a motor vehicle. A lesser recognized but still dangerous peril is drowsy driving.
The CDC conducted a study which included over 15,000 participants, randomly selected across the country and reported that in the previous 30 days, 1 in 25 drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for approximately 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in 2013.
Tips to avoid drowsy driving:
1. Get enough sleep
2. Stick to a regularly maintained schedule
3. Avoid medications and drinking
Drinking coffee or energy drinks alone is not always enough. They might help you feel more alert. However, the effects last only a short time, and you might not be as alert as you think you are. If you drink coffee and are seriously sleep-deprived, you still may have “micro sleeps” or brief losses of consciousness that can last for four or five seconds. This means that at 55 miles per hour, you’ve traveled more than 100 yards down the road while asleep. That’s plenty of time to cause a crash.
If you start to get sleepy while you’re driving, drink 1-2 cups of coffee and pull over for a short 20-minute nap in a safe place, such as a lighted designated rest stop. This has been shown to increase alertness in scientific studies but only for short time periods.