Now that summer driving season has arrived, countless American families will take to the roads for their family vacations. Unfortunately, sleepy drivers will likely cause many of these families to become involved in crashes. Sleep deprived drivers are estimated to cause over 100,000 crashes each year and account for over 1,500 deaths and 70,000 injuries. That long summer road trip may put you at increased risk for drowsy driving. Take the following precautions when you’re on the road this summer:
1) Get enough sleep the night before your trip. Staying up late to pack and getting up extra early to “beat the rush” is a perfect set-up for sleepy driving.
2) Avoid alcohol and sedating medications before driving.
3) Take frequent rest stops. Stopping to “stretch your legs” every 100 miles or 2 hours, even if you feel fine, can help prevent driver fatigue.
4) Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you going! If you feel sleepy, pull over and take a rest. Even a 15-minute nap can dramatically improve your driving performance.
5) Be particularly careful about driving if you’ve just flown into a new time zone. Getting off a plane into a different time zone can make you particularly prone to fatigue and the diminished driving ability that comes with it.
How can you tell if you are too drowsy to drive? The following signs should tell you to pull over:
1) You can’t recall the last few miles traveled.
2) You turn up the radio or air conditioning to keep you alert.
3) Your thoughts drift.
4) Your eyes feel heavy.
5) You veer out of your lane or accidentally tailgate another car.
Remember, sleepy drivers can be as dangerous as drunk drivers! Most of us wouldn’t think of having a few cocktails and taking the family out for a drive. Please – don’t drive sleepy, either!