In a recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, it was found that nearly half of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point. About 40 percent of drivers have fallen asleep while driving, 17 percent of which resulted in fatal car accidents. What’s more, one in eight motor vehicle crashes that involved drowsy driving ended in hospital visits. These statistics are especially startling, as it shows just how dangerous driving could be.
Ronald A. Popper, MD, FCCP, FAASM, of the Southern California Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders Medical Center, said that the best way to combat a sleepy drive is to get a good-night’s sleep beforehand. He also advised to “allow adequate travel time in case of traffic accidents or road construction.”
Here are some other tips that will help you avoid drowsy driving accidents.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving
Take turns behind the wheel
If there are other passengers in the vehicle, then you can take turns at the wheel to avoid drowsy driving. On long road trips, take shifts of a few hours at a time. This way, drivers can rest and nobody is in charge of driving the vehicle for too long.
Drivers who are only starting to feel sleepy can do some things to stay alert. Try opening the windows or talking to other passengers in the car. Turning up the radio is also an option. However, avoid using cell phones and don’t let the radio distract you from the road.
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Pay attention to the signs
There are obvious warning signs that should tell you that you must not drive for the meantime, signs you should look out for to avoid drowsy driving accidents. Some of these signs include heavy eyelids, excessive yawning, lack of concentration, missing exits, and drifting in and out of your lane. If you notice any of these signs, you should pull the car over in a safe place and rest. If you’re already very tired and can’t concentrate, turning up the radio or opening the windows won’t help, it would just lead you to more dangerous situations. Get a 20-minute nap to get you rested instead.
Take breaks as necessary
To avoid drowsy driving, stop and stretch your legs every 2 to 3 hours when on a long road trip, as this will keep your circulation going. Stretch your feet and wiggle your toes when you’re parked. You may also want to drink caffeine before you start driving again to keep you alert and focused during these long trips.
These tips are not only helpful for keeping drowsy drivers safe. If you could, you may want to install a GPS fleet tracking device in company vehicles. GPS tracking saves lives in a lot of ways, and one is by keeping track of drivers’ data such as their speed, idle time, and aggressive driving, which can all be signals pointing to a drowsy driver. With alerts that get your attention in case of sporadic and aggressive driving behaviors, you can be sure that your employees and vehicles will remain safe despite the long hours.