The National Sleep Foundation sponsors Sleep Awareness Week 2022, which runs from March 13-19 this year. The goal of Sleep Awareness Week is to educate the public about the importance of sleep. One of the most dangerous things you can do without enough sleep is to drive a vehicle. When you drive drowsy, you aren't only putting your life in danger, but the lives of others on the road as well.
How to Know You Are Getting Drowsy
Drivers are most affected by drowsy driving in the afternoon after they get off of work or when they drive between midnight and 6 a.m. This is due to natural dips in the body's circadian rhythm during these time periods. If you feel any of these symptoms, it is time to get off of the road:
Repeatedly blinking to try to keep your eyes open.
Lack of focus or attention.
Drifting out of your lane.
Falling asleep, if even for a second.
If you do reach the point where you feel like you are going to fall asleep while behind the wheel, pull over to a safe location. Don't simply put down the windows or turn up the radio and hope it will wake you up.
Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving
Follow all of these tips so you don't have to worry about becoming drowsy when you're driving.
Get Enough Sleep
According to theCDC, adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night, while teens need eight to ten hours. Making sure you get the minimum advised hours per night is one of the best ways to avoid getting drowsy in the first place. If you plan to leave early for a road trip, go to bed even earlier than you usually do. According to the NSC, driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is like driving at the legal alcohol limit of 0.08%.
Avoid Any Alcohol
Since it is a sedative, drinking alcohol in any amount can lead to drowsiness. This is especially true if you drink during the body's lethargic times like the afternoon or night. If you are behind on sleep to begin with, even one drink can make you extra drowsy. Don't ever drive while impaired.
Check Your Prescription Drugs
Be sure to check any medications you are taking to see if a side effect is drowsiness. If you are taking a new drug for the first time, don't drive until you know how it will affect you. Even something as common as allergy medications can put you to sleep after taking it.
How Many Drivers Are Affected by Driving Drowsy?
Driving drowsy causes you to have delayed reaction times, the inability to judge speed and distance, poor judgment, and the chance to actually fall asleep. Unfortunately, there can be terrible consequences from drowsy driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were 697 drivers killed due to drowsy driving in 2019, or 1.9% of total driving fatalities.
8.8-9.5% of all crashes and 10.6% of all crashes that resulted in airbag use, injury, or major property damage were due to drowsy drivers. This AAA study was with 3,500 people in cars with cameras that monitored specifically for drowsiness.
50% of adult drivers admitted to driving drowsy while 20% said they fell asleep at the wheel in the past year, according to the Sleep Foundation.
Get Your 7+ Hours of Sleep Every Night
Experts say you should get at least seven hours of sleep every night to achieve a fully rested state. It is important to be fully rested before you hit the road so you can avoid an accident. Sign up for an Aceable.com driver's ed course to learn safe driving techniques and stay alert while you do it.