What You Need to Know About Driving Drowsy (HINT: You Shouldn’t Do it)

Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Defensive Driving Tips

You know you’ve been there: You are driving on the freeway and you feel your eyelids starting to get heavy. “I can push through!” you think to yourself, and maybe that time you might be able to. But the problem is that many people who think they can make it end up nodding off, even if only for a split second, and the result can be deadly.

Drowsy driving has always been a concern. As long as people have been driving they have been getting tired while doing so. It is a monotonous task that doesn’t leave much room for brainpower to keep you awake. Not to mention, today’s society puts way too little importance on sleep, so the majority of people are like zombies simply going through the motions.

So how serious is drowsy driving?

According to AOL Autos, the reported statistics of people killed by drowsy driving are not even close to the full story. While the official reports claim that only 2% of fatalities are caused from driving drowsy, they believe that the more accurate statistics are much higher. They believe that almost 12% of fatalities and 16% of all accidents can be attributed to this drowsy driving.

Why is there such a variance?

Unlike drunk driving, it is pretty hard to determine if a deceased driver was drowsy before they crashed. Being drowsy doesn’t affect the blood or organs in anyway that will show up on an autopsy report.

What can I do about it?

First off, drive defensively. When you are intentionally aware of everything going on around you, your brain is forced to stay more active. You should also avoid cruise control, because that is just one less thing for your brain to focus on. At the first sign of drowsiness (which can be any of these: your eyelids getting heavy, increased blinking, unintentionally hitting the rumble strips, and realizing you can’t recall the last few miles), you need to stop driving. It’s not worth the risk to push through.

What if I don’t have a choice?

If you absolutely have to keep driving, get yourself some caffeine and rest for the 20-30 minutes it will take to kick in. However, this method should not be used as a permanent solution. It is just like a spare tire: you only use it as a temporary solution to get to a lasting fix. As soon as you can, get yourself some deep REM sleep before you hit the road again.

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