Take a Break, Stay Awake.
Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving
- The inability to recall the last few miles traveled
- Daydreaming or having wandering, disconnected thoughts
- Having trouble keeping your eyes open and focused
- Feeling as though your head is very heavy
- Drifting from your lane or off the road, or tailgating
- Yawning frequently or rubbing your eyes repeatedly
- Missing signs or driving past your intended exit
- Feeling irritable and restless
Did You Know?
- More than 1 in 5 fatal crashes involve driver fatigue
- Drivers who get less than 5 hours of sleep have a crash risk similar to driving over the legal limit for alcohol
- More than 1 in 3 adults report sleeping less than 7 hours a day
Driver Alert...Arrive Alive!
Driving can reveal your true level of sleepiness, especially in the afternoon or at night. Starting a trip feels exciting, but the alertness wears off, letting boredom and drowsiness take over. Here are some suggestions for ways to avoid driving drowsy:
- Stop driving if you become sleepy. Someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time – fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision, causing people who are very sleepy to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.
- Get enough sleep, especially the night before a long trip (7 hours). Sleeping less than six hours increases your risk of falling asleep at the wheel; sleeping less than four hours is especially dangerous. Also, don’t plan to work all day and then drive all night. Research shows that a driver who has been awake for 20 or more hours is at high risk of falling asleep.
- Travel with a passenger. An alert passenger can watch you for signs of fatigue. If you have a front seat passenger, they should remain awake.
- Take a power nap. Pull off the road to park in a safe place such as a parking lot or rest area; never pull over on the shoulder of the road. Be sure to pick a well-lit place where your car is visible to passersby. Roll up the windows, lock the doors, and lie back in the driver’s seat for 20 minutes or so. When you wake up, get some exercise and have some caffeine.
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles. Stop sooner if you become sleepy. If you get a Trip Tik from AAA, ask a travel counselor to point out good places to stop. Many websites that provide directions offer the ability to indicate stopping places along the route.
- Travel at times when you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than driving straight through. Also avoid sleepy times of day. Take a mid-afternoon nap and find a place to sleep between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Avoid heavy foods and medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.
- Consult with a sleep specialist or other medical professional if you have trouble getting enough rest or are chronically fatigued.