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:
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.
FAQ’s About Are You Too Tired To Drive?
What are the signs that I’m too tired to drive safely?
If you’re experiencing heavy eyelids, frequent yawning, difficulty focusing, drifting from your lane, missing traffic signals, or feeling restless and irritable, these may be signs that you are too fatigued to drive safely.
How does sleepiness affect my driving ability?
Sleepiness impairs your driving by slowing reaction time, reducing vigilance, and affecting decision-making skills. It can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
What are the risks of driving while fatigued?
Driving while fatigued increases the risk of accidents due to decreased alertness and impaired motor coordination. It can lead to serious consequences such as collisions, injuries, and fatalities.
How can I prevent drowsy driving?
To prevent drowsy driving, ensure you get adequate sleep (7-9 hours for adults), stick to a regular sleep schedule, take breaks every two hours or 100 miles on long trips, and avoid alcohol or medications that cause drowsiness before driving.
Are there any quick fixes to overcome tiredness while driving?
While there are no substitutes for proper sleep, short-term solutions like pulling over for a 20-minute nap, consuming caffeine, or getting out of the car for some fresh air and physical activity can temporarily help increase alertness. However, these are not long-term solutions for fatigue.
Can I drive if I’m taking medication that makes me drowsy?
It’s not advisable to drive if you’re taking medications that can cause drowsiness. Always check the label for warnings or speak with your healthcare provider about the side effects and how they may impair your driving.
Is it okay to rely on technology like lane departure warnings to prevent accidents when I’m tired?
While technology like lane departure warnings can be helpful, it should not be relied upon to prevent accidents when you’re tired. The best course of action is to avoid driving when fatigued.
What should I do if I feel too tired to continue driving?
If you feel too tired to continue driving, find a safe place to pull over and take a nap or switch drivers if possible. If neither is an option, consider calling a friend or a ride-sharing service for assistance. Your safety and the safety of others on the road should always be your top priority.
How can I tell if someone else is too tired to drive?
Signs that someone else is too tired to drive include difficulty keeping their eyes open, frequent blinking, head nodding, poor concentration, yawning, and erratic driving behavior. If you notice these signs, encourage them to stop driving and rest.
Are there any times of day when I’m more likely to be too tired to drive?
Yes, your body’s natural circadian rhythms can make you more tired during the late night (midnight to 6 am) and mid-afternoon (2 pm to 4 pm). It’s best to avoid driving during these periods, especially if you haven’t had enough sleep.
Products to aid in preventing drowsiness behind the wheel
We recognize that drowsiness can impair driving abilities, potentially leading to dangerous situations. As such, we’ve identified several products that may help drivers stay alert:
- Caffeinated Products: These include energy drinks, coffee, or caffeine pills. They can provide a temporary boost in alertness.
- Alertness Devices: These come in various forms like wearable alarms that vibrate if you start to nod off, or in-vehicle systems that monitor signs of fatigue and alert the driver.
- Apps: Some smartphone applications are designed to detect signs of tiredness. They may warn the driver to take a break.
Remember, these products are aids and should not replace proper sleep.
The legality of driving while significantly fatigued
Legislation regarding drowsy driving varies by jurisdiction. Here’s what we know:
- No Specific Laws: While many areas lack specific laws about driving while tired, it doesn’t mean it’s safe or recommended.
- Impaired Driving Laws: Fatigue can impair your driving to a degree that might fall under broader impaired driving laws, even if there isn’t a specific mention of drowsiness.
- Duty of Care: Drivers have a responsibility to ensure they are in a fit state to operate a vehicle. If tiredness affects your ability to drive safely, you could be liable for negligence.
Stay informed and always prioritize safety to ensure we drive responsibly.