Along with impaired driving and distracted driving, driving while fatigued is one of the most common causes of car accidents. And unfortunately, it’s easy to underestimate the risk of drowsy driving. You should know that fatigue can impair your ability to drive safely as much as consuming alcohol can.
Causes and Risk Factors of Fatigued Driving
It seems obvious that failing to get enough sleep would be a major cause of drowsy driving, but the issue is actually a little more complex than that. The quality of your sleep is important too. If you tend to wake up frequently during the night, your brain won’t get the rest it needs. Even if you do get enough sleep, driving at night can make you drowsy. Shift workers and commercial drivers are at a higher risk, as are people with a sleep disorder and those who take certain medications that can cause drowsiness.
Signs of Fatigued Driving
People often underestimate just how sleepy they really are. It’s also easy to underestimate the extent to which drowsiness can impair your ability to drive. But if you find yourself yawning frequently, daydreaming, having trouble paying attention to the road, and experiencing slower reaction times, it’s time to pull over. You might also find that you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open, your driving speed fluctuates frequently, or you’re making inappropriate gear changes.
Steps for Avoiding Drowsy Driving
Consuming caffeine won’t help you avoid a drowsy driving-related accident. The only cure for sleepiness is to get some quality sleep. It’s best to avoid driving at times when you would normally be sleeping. If you’re on a long road trip, trade places with another driver every two hours, and make plans to stop at hotels every evening.
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