Behind the Wheel
Drowsy driving is something we have all done at some point. But people who drive to make a living or have long commutes to work may seem used to it. However, drowsy driving can be just as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What Are Some of the Dangers of Drowsy Driving?
Studies show that driving while sleepy can cause many of the same impairments that driving under the influence doesn’t. Drowsy driving can affect drivers:
• Blood pressure
• Heart Rate
• The ability of eyes to adjust in the dark
• Reaction time to light and sounds
• Ability to assess how fast or slow you’re going
• Depth perception
Ways to Stay Alert
Here are some tips to help keep you alert the next time you start feeling sleepy behind the wheel.
• Drive with someone
If it’s possible, drive with a buddy. That way, you can trade off driving responsibilities if one of you gets drowsy.
• Take a nap before your trip
You should try to be getting enough sleep already, so you can be rested up for your drive, especially if you make a long commute to work. If you’re going on a trip and couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, then try to take at least a 15-30-minute nap before you go. Research has shown that even a quick nap can help you feel alert and refreshed and ready to drive.
• Listen to music
Cranking up some tunes on your ride can help you stay alert and focused. It’s best to play songs that you know so that you can sing along to them. This will stimulate your brain. The more energetic and upbeat the song, the better.
• Drink something caffeinated
Since caffeine is a stimulant (and a legal one at that), it can help get you through drowsy periods. Many people drink a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage to help get them through the day at work. The same can be done for long drives. Just one cup of coffee can drastically reduce sleep deprivation and can also lower the risk of crashing.
When Should You Stop Driving?
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do to perk it up, your mind is just simply too tired and needs a break. Here are some signs that it’s time to pull over:
• You keep yawning, and you can’t stop
• You don’t remember the last few miles of driving
• Your mind is wandering, and you can’t stay focused
• Your eyelids feel heavy
• Your head starts to tilt or droop to the side
• You realize you have drifted on the shoulder of the road or into another lane
• Another driver honks at you for how you’re driving
If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should try and find a safe place to pull over and rest. Or try to make it to the nearest rest area or somewhere similar. If you are frequently getting drowsy behind the wheel, then you may want to find alternate routes of transportation.