Ways to Prevent Driver Fatigue and Drowsy Driving
Fatigue behind the wheel is a frequent companion to many a driver in their morning and evening commutes, as well as while driving cross-country or simply after a poor night’s rest. You should do your best to combat fatigue, however, as drowsiness has a severe effect on your abilities to drive well, making you significantly more likely to get into a catastrophic auto accident.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you are not safe to drive:
- Your memory of the drive is hazy.
- You’re drifting towards other vehicles or out of your lane.
- You’re yawning, rubbing your eyes, etc.
- You’re shifting around and trying to get comfortable.
- You’re missing road signs, turns, and other details.
Some vehicles have specialized drowsiness detection systems that can alert you when you’re too tired to drive, but for now, we’ll discuss simple measures to prevent driver fatigue that anyone can take while on the road.
Get Enough Sleep
The simplest way to avoid dangerous drowsy driving is to never be drowsy in the first place. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep every night, with a minimum of six, in order to get through the day without needing extra sleep. If you know you have an especially long day of driving ahead of you, try to get extra sleep in advance, and budget out your driving time with sleep time on a balanced schedule.
Take Naps and Breaks
If you do get tired behind the wheel, the most effective thing you can do is pull over, turn the car off, and take a 30-45 minute nap. Doing so can stave off exhaustion for hours, with only a minimal impact on your schedule.
After waking up from a nap, do not, under any circumstances, continue driving right away. Sleep inertia is the period of grogginess and exhaustion you feel shortly after waking up and can be a more significant impairment than your initial drowsiness ever was. Sleep inertia usually takes 15-20 minutes to pass, so give yourself time to wake up fully before resuming your drive; additionally, note that “wake-up” routines such as listening to music, blasting cold air, and drinking caffeine are only marginally effective in reducing the duration of sleep inertia, and should not be relied upon.
Avoid Dangerous Methods to Keep Yourself Awake With
Many a misconception exists in terms of ways to keep yourself awake. Although these can technically function to stop you from falling asleep, they’re terrible ideas within the specific context of driving:
- Drinking coffee or consuming copious amounts of sugar is inconsistent and can result in an unpredictable “crash” (which can lead to a literal crash) at some time in the future. Taking a nap is significantly more effective, so never rely on sustenance to keep you going.
- Turning up the music, rolling down the window, or getting passengers to talk to you all technically will help you stay awake, but they won’t address your actual fatigue. Instead, they create a distraction, which will have the exact opposite effect as intended, further impairing your ability to drive.
Drowsy Driving Accidents in Arizona
Drowsy driving injures and kills thousands of people every year. If you’ve been hurt by the negligence of a fatigued driver in Arizona, you deserve comprehensive compensation for your suffering and losses. Our Phoenix auto accident attorneys can help you prove that the other driver was impaired, so contact us today at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation and take the first step on the road to recovery.