Who doesn’t like sleeping? It is an essential part of everybody’s life. However, there is a right place and time for everything. When you fall asleep while driving, it can lead to dangerous repercussions.
Just as the dangers posed by drinking and driving, drowsy driving also drastically contributes to the rapid occurrence of accidents. There is never a good reason for anybody to drive while feeling sleepy. Drowsy driving is a preventable problem if proper measures are taken at an individual level. The hindrance here is that driving while drowsy or fatigued doesn’t receive its due importance in comparison to intoxicated driving, despite the percentages of road accidents attributed to it.
Dangers of Drowsy Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has rolled out statistics that claim that drowsy or sleepy driving was responsible for 633 road accident fatalities in 2020. The AA Foundation revealed that drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 crashes on the roadway, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities each year.
Drowsy Driving takes place due to a phenomenon called microsleep i.e. when the driver falls asleep for a few seconds. It is within this window of a few seconds, that the probability of the car running off the road or colliding with another vehicle increases drastically. The subsequent impairment is harmful because it makes the driver less attentive to their surroundings, easily distracted, reduced hand-eye coordination, and slow reaction time. This state of sleepy driving hinders the visibility and decision-making capability of the drivers, thereby rendering them at high risk of accidents. Certain measures can be taken by individuals to overcome such dangers when behind the wheel and engage in safe driving.
Causes behind Drowsy Driving
A prevalent threat to driving safety, there are a few plausible explanations to understand why drivers unwittingly engage in drowsy driving.
- The leading cause of drowsy driving is sleep deprivation. Lack of adequate sleep sends the body into fatigue mode, inadvertently leading them to doze off in the worst possible situations such as while driving.
- Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea also contribute to this as such illnesses often lead to disturbed and unfulfilled sleep. Sleep disorders are more dangerous as they are hardly ever diagnosed and as such proper treatment is not received to curb daytime drowsiness.
- Some medications have elements that make people feel drowsy immediately after consumption. Taking such medications before driving also triggers drowsiness.
Tips to Prevent Drowsy Driving
You can adopt certain behaviors and follow some rules to ensure driving safety. In this part of the blog, we will share a few tips that will help you become a safe driver and prevent drowsy driving.
- Adequate Sleep - Since, lack of sleep is the leading cause of drowsy driving, getting adequate amounts of sleep can reduce the instances of falling asleep while driving. It is recommended that an adult should get around 8-9 hours of healthy sleep per day. Always plan your travel in such a way that you are well rested. If not, do not hesitate to postpone your start time
- Rest Stops - To avoid feeling fatigued, especially during long journeys, make pit stops in between. Make sure to stop, rest and have a power nap, if necessary, when you start feeling tired and drowsy. Quick coffee or tea breaks will help to relax your body and release some of the pent up stress.
- Avoid Medications - Medications like those for cough or allergies, have a tendency to cause drowsiness should be avoided before and while driving. This resulting drowsiness endangers your life along with others as you are no longer alert and far from driving safety.
- Travel Buddy - If you are traveling long distances, it is always best to have a travel buddy i.e. a friend or a family member accompany you. Conversations and the company keeps your mind alert and awake.
- Appropriate Time - Always try to plan your travels during the day time. Driving during those hours such as late night or early morning, when your body is accustomed to sleeping should be avoided whenever possible.
- Identify Signs - You will have no control over when you suddenly fall asleep. Therefore, it is better to identify the warning signs of drowsiness earlier and take necessary remedial actions. Signs that you are drowsy include - repeated yawning, heavy eyelids, slow reaction to things, zoning out etc.
Your Tech-Based Travel Buddy
SafetyConnect’s Driving Safety Solution analyzes driving behavior to make your colleagues safer drivers. Our solution has unique features such as broadcast and checklists that would enable you to tackle this issue of drowsy driving by educating those driving about this ill phenomenon and sending out reminders to take a break.
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