Whether you are the driver of a tractor-trailer, a taxicab, school bus, family minivan, or any vehicle, when you leave on your journey, you're expected to reach your destination: work, home, school, or anyplace else. Your chances of arriving safely increase dramatically when you're a cautious driver. This includes being well-rested; recent studies show that drivers lacking sleep are as dangerous as drunk drivers. That's a scary thought for those of us who already feel as though the day doesn't contain enough hours already to drive the miles required of us--literally and figuratively--in our daily lives!
Staggering facts about drowsy driving include:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 856 lives were taken by drowsy driving in 2015. This, however, may be an underestimate, as there are few ways to determine if a driver was sleepy behind the wheel.
- Also according to NHTSA, most drowsy driving accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m., or in late afternoon when our body naturally slows down.
- While it's common to think that a cup or two of coffee or an energy drink can cure a case of drowsiness, these things give only a microburst of energy, leaving the driver sleepy again within a relatively short period of time.
It's crucial to the safety of all who share the road, from highways to side streets, that we understand ways to combat drowsy driving. These include:
- Get enough sleep! Most adults require around 7 hours nightly.
- Avoid alcohol, especially on long road trips.
- Know the side effects of any medications you're taking; drowsiness can be caused by any number of common prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
- Pull over if you feel yourself falling asleep! Take a 20-minute power nap, if possible.
Stay safe and be aware of the dangers of driving while drowsy. Your life, as well as the life of countless others sharing the road with you, may well depend upon it!