In one year, tired driving accounted for around 72,000 crashes, totaling 800 deaths and 44,000 injuries. Even if you manage not to fall asleep at the wheel, drowsiness slows down your reaction time and hinders your ability to think coherently and make smart driving decisions. Put simply, it's not worth the risk. Here are some tips to avoid it:
- Leave early. You may still be fairly alert right after clocking out at work, but as the afternoon wears on you may find yourself getting tired before you know it. When you need to drive, don't dawdle. Try to complete any errands or socializing early in the evening.
- A fifteen-minute nap can refresh you enough to get home safely on a shorter trip.
- Take regular breaks on long trips. If you're out on the road for hours at a time, exhaustion can set in earlier than you might think. Take the time to pull into rest areas, grab some coffee and relax. You can even take a nap, if necessary.
- When feeling a little tired, turning up the A/C or rolling down the window can help to keep you a bit more alert for a little while. Note that this, like a nap or a cup of coffee, is no substitute for a good night's rest, but it can help to keep you sharp for shorter trips.
- If you're not sure whether you're awake enough to drive, ask for a ride or take a rideshare, taxi or bus. You can pick your car up from work or your friend's house in the morning.
- Know the signs of drowsiness:
- Drifting into another lane
- Memory lapses
- Yawning and frequent blinking
- Losing your sense of direction (missing exits, etc.)
- You're hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road
Your auto insurance may cover you in the event of an at-fault accident, even if the cause was falling asleep at the wheel. But that's not something you want to happen. Not only will it raise your car insurance rates, but being asleep during an accident means that you don't even have the chance to try and minimize the damages. It's simply not worth the risk under any circumstance. Sleep well and drive safe.