It is so important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night, especially if you’re getting behind the wheel. Whether you’re a long distance trucker, shift worker, or just have a long commute in the mornings, ensuring you are well-rested behind the wheel is extremely important for your safety and others on the road. Feeling tired behind the wheel is called drowsy driving. Below are some more facts, signs and preventative measures you can take to drive safely when you’re feeling a little tired.
Drowsy driving facts
- Drowsy driving causes more than 30,000 accidents annually.
- Cognitive impairment after more than 18 hours awake is similar to that of a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent. After 24 hours, impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10 percent, which is more than the legal limit in all 50 states.
- 16.5 percent of all fatal crashes involved drowsy driving by one of the drivers.
- For truckers, there are more crashes related to drowsy driving that occur during long haul routes of 51 miles or more.
- Adults under 30 years old are at the highest risk of drowsy driving.
Noticing the signs
- Excessive yawning
- Frequent blinking or “heavy eyes”
- Difficulty remembering previous miles of the trip
- Missing turns or exits
- Inability to keep the car in your lane
How to prevent drowsy driving
- Get enough sleep before hitting the road
- Pull over and take a nap in a safe place
- Switch drivers (if possible)
- Consume caffeine at least 30 minutes before getting behind the wheel
- Avoid driving during high-risk times, 12 a.m. – 6 a.m.
This week is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, working to bring awareness to reducing the number of fatigue-related crashes in Central Iowa and help save lives. If you’re on the roads and notice someone who may be drowsy behind the wheel, protect yourself by driving defensively and when safe, report the driver, for their safety and others on the road. Support safe driving by signing The National Sleep Foundation’s pledge against drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving results in hundreds of crashes and injuries or deaths each year, and we want to help you stay safe. If you frequently experience excessive sleepiness, the doctors at Iowa Sleep can help. Get in touch with us by calling or filling out our online question form.