The average adult does not get enough sleep during the night. There are several contributing factors to this and many health problems, but it also leads to problems on the roads. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety took data on driving behaviors for 2018 and found that those who are not getting enough sleep are four times more likely to crash than drivers who are getting at least seven hours of sleep.
Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving
There have been several organizations over the last few decades that have made it a priority to educate the public on the dangers of drunk driving. While new student drivers are being taught about the risks of drowsy driving, there are not major campaigns to educate the public on its dangers. Many drivers still know that it is dangerous, yet almost a third of drivers polled admit to driving when overly tired in the last month. This means there is still a big problem on the roads that needs more education.
When it comes to drowsy driving, the dangers are in the body’s functions. When the body is overly tired, the reaction times are slower. Pushing on the brake or steering quickly if cut off, there is a hazard in the road, or anything else requires quick reflexes and thinking. When tired, the body cannot react as it would normally, like reaction times when driving drunk.
Another part of drowsy driving is that the driver can fall asleep for a second or two while driving. This is an added level of danger because the car is moving uncontrolled. The danger increases the faster a car is driving too. When people are going for long drives, they tend to be on roads with a higher speed limit.
Signs You’re Tired
Most people are aware of when they are tired, but when driving, these signs should get extra attention. The most common signs are:
- Struggling to keep eyes open
- Vision goes in and out of focus
- Drifting from your lane
- Not remembering the last few miles driven
- Missing signs or turns
- Frequent yawning
If you notice these behaviors, you are too tired to be driving. Do not try and push through to get to your destination. Instead, there are other things you can do to wake up. Try pulling off the road into a safe area to walk around the car a few times. Take a drink of water or eat something. This can help get the blood flowing and wake you up more. If you have a long way to drive still, pull off in a safe spot and take a nap. Sleep experts say that a quick, 20 to 30-minute nap is all that is needed to become rested. While this may seem frustrating to delay your trip, it is more important to arrive safely.
The most dangerous drivers are those who don’t recognize potential dangers. Being a responsible driver is making the right choices to keep yourself and others on the road safe. Don’t become a danger to others by not recognizing your limitations. You would never drive drunk, so don’t drive drowsy.