Don’t Drive Drowsy, Arrive Awake

A young man is napping in his car and resting his head on the steering wheel.Have you ever gotten to work and not remembered going through that big intersection or past the school? Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep last night and were driving while drowsy. That’s a big no-no, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are plenty of warnings surrounding the risks of drunk driving or texting while driving, but rarely do we see information about drowsy driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 25 adult drivers have reported falling asleep while driving. In 2014, drowsy driving was reportedly responsible for over 800 fatalities, which is 2.6 percent of all fatalities. The NHTSA says this has remained consistent over the past decade.

Even if you’ve never been slumped over the steering wheel asleep at a red light before, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t driven while drowsy. Being sleepy affects your ability to drive safely, even when you don’t fall asleep. Drowsiness causes:

  • Slower reaction time
  • Poor decision making
  • Decreased attention span

Getting the right amount of sleep before driving is imperative to arriving alive. The recommended amount is 7-8 hours, especially if you’re planning a long car trip. If you find yourself yawning or blinking frequently, difficulty remembering the last few miles, missing your exit, drifting into other lanes or hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road, it might be time for someone else to take the wheel or for you to pull into a designated rest area for a nap.

Here are a few ways that may help you through that next commute or when you’re on the open road:

  • Try and get 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Avoid the use of alcohol or medications that can cause drowsiness.
  • Take a to-go cup of tea, coffee or your favorite caffeinated beverage.
  • Pull over and take short 20-minute naps, if possible.

There are more than 100 recognized sleep disorders, many of which are difficult to diagnose and treat. If you have a sleep disorder or think you are experiencing sleep disorder symptoms, call (866) 328-9932 or find a doctor near you.