You're a safe, responsible driver, right? You always put your cell phone down, put your seat belt on, keep your speed down and never drive drunk. What else could you possibly be doing to endanger yourself and others?
When's the last time you yawned while driving? Was it recently? If so, you're probably guilty of one of the biggest bad habits American drivers have, which is drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving causes more than 40,000 injuries and 15,000 deaths every year. In fact, a drowsy driver can be just as dangerous as a drunk driver on the road.
Younger people, those in between 16-29 years of age, are particularly prone to drowsy driving. This is probably because they drive themselves harder as they balance things like school and part-time jobs and may put in long hours at the start of their careers. It's also possible that they just believe they have limitless energy still and don't realize that they're wearing themselves out until they fall asleep behind the wheel.
Whatever the reason, there are steps you can take to prevent drowsy driving. First, you have to look at the major contributors to the problem. These include:
- Lack of sleep
- Sleep Disorders
- Driving late at night or early in the morning
To combat each of these things, you have to take a proactive approach.
First, commit yourself to getting a full eight hours of sleep or getting a ride. If you're honest with yourself, you know when you haven't slept enough to get behind the wheel. Take an Uber or the bus instead.
Next, see your doctor if you're having trouble sleeping. You may need sleeping medication, or you may have to get a letter asking your boss to stop moving your shift around (which can also affect sleep). If any medication you're on makes you sleepy, ask your doctor if there's an alternative or a time of day that's better to take it.
Finally, try a few lifestyle changes. Limit your driving in the wee hours of the night or early morning any time you have an option. Cut back on alcohol.
Add a couple cups of coffee to your morning routine to get the caffeine in your system before you're on the road. If you have a long drive, plan a couple of short naps along the way at rest areas. All of these steps can help you avoid a serious motor vehicle accident.
Source: driving-testing.org, "This Is How You Break 5 Most Dangerous Driving Habits," accessed Feb. 21, 2018