Drowsy driving is impaired driving
You get in the car, already a little tired and worried about staying alert for the road ahead. You roll your windows down, suck on hot cinnamon candy, turn up the radio, and chug an energy drink. You may think you’re taking precautions, but what you’re really doing is putting yourself (and others) in danger.
When you’re driving, dozing off for even a few seconds can be fatal. The National Department of Transportation estimates for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries each year in the U.S.
A study from the AAA Foundation shows more than a third of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives, with drowsy drivers involved in an estimated 21 percent of fatal crashes.
The best advice is to get plenty of sleep, plan ahead, and avoid driving when you know you’ll be fatigued. But if you’re already on the road and realize you’re too tired to drive, pull over somewhere safe and take a nap. A few tips:
- Sleeping in a vehicle on the side of the highway is dangerous. If you need to pull over, try to find a parking lot rather than a roadside or off-ramp.
- When napping at a rest stop, park near the building under the lights for personal security.
- Larger truck stops and 24-hour gas stations have cameras and lots of activity, which can make them safer places to take a nap.
One more thing: You can’t predict when you’re about to fall asleep. In a AAA Foundation study of drivers who fell asleep and crashed, nearly half said they felt only “slightly drowsy” or “not at all drowsy” just before an accident.