Drowsy driving is one of the nation’s major causes of vehicle accidents on the road. In fact, studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that it is responsible for about one in six accidents on the road.
Unfortunately, even with this knowledge, over 30% of all American drivers admitted to drowsy driving in 2011. Almost 96% of all individuals polled in a broad-range study said they would love all drowsy drivers to get off the road.
To help put things in perspective, here is an example: if you doze off for 3-5 seconds behind the wheel at 70 miles an hour, you’ll cross two football yard lines before waking up. Now imagine the amount of carnage you could cause if there were other road users and pedestrians on the road at that time. The best cure for drowsy driving, therefore, is to prevent and avoid it. To do that, here’s what you should do:
Get Enough Rest
This is particularly important for professional drivers who drive long distances in buses, heavy rigs and mini-trucks. Yes, we get that you want to head back on time to deliver your goods, but the reality is that you will not make it that far if you sleep behind the wheel.
This is not just for the professional drivers though. It is understandable that most people are working longer hours and pulling 2-3 jobs just to stay afloat in this economy. As a result, many people are getting less sleep just to be able to make ends meet.
This however means that there are more people who are likely to fall asleep behind the wheels whilst driving home or from one job to another. Moreover, in the event that they do not sleep, they are just as likely to get in accidents because their reaction time is delayed, and their mental alertness on the road is not up to par.
Avoid Rushing to Meet Your Quota
This goes for anyone who drives for a living. We are talking cabbies, long distance bus drivers, city bus drivers and truckers. Trying to rush in order to meet your quota can result in less rest than is required by the body. You know what that means? It means that most of them are at risk of drowsy driving. Avoid this by working within reason and going home when you are both physically and mentally tired.
Take Frequent Stops When Driving Long Distance
If you are driving long distance and are feeling fatigued, you may want to pull over at any convenient spot to get some rest. Sleeping for as little as 30 minutes can make you feel fresh and awake whilst keeping you alert and focused enough to drive safely. If there’s nowhere to rest, find pit stops where you can safely take a nap without necessarily being at risk of your vehicle being stolen.
Use the Buddy System
If you’ll be driving long distance, try and find a partner or companion who will keep you awake with conversations and switch with you when you are feeling fatigued or sleepy. This is usually the best way to avoid drowsy driving. Most truckers are lucky in the sense that they can tune into the trucker’s channel and chat about anything and everything. This helps them stay awake until they can find a pit stop to rest.
Engage in Activities and Drink Some Coffee
One of the more effective ways to stay awake if you are alone is to get some coffee in the morning. This can keep you awake for at least 5-7 hours whilst driving. Combined with healthy eating habits like fruits and drinking lots of water (the more water you drink, the higher your chances of stopping to urinate and stretch your legs), you’ll most likely keep your energy levels up.
Then, listen to music, do some dancing on your seat, play mental words games, listen to interesting audio books… anything that will keep you awake and alert.
Oscar King is himself a trucker with over a decade of experience, who sometimes writes between jobs to keep his mind sharp. When it comes time for his routine DOT exam, he usually pays a visit to www.driverphysicals.com. You can learn more about Oscar by visiting Google+.