How to Avoid the Dangers of Drowsy Driving - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Nov 6, 2023

How to Avoid the Dangers of Drowsy Driving

It may surprise you to learn that “impaired driving” is more than driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Impaired driving also includes driving drowsy. According to the National Safety Council, you are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued; and being awake for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally drunk. Unfortunately, driving drowsy is more common than you’d think, with 37 percent of Americans having admitted to falling asleep at the wheel according to the National Sleep Foundation. To make you aware of ways to avoid driver’s fatigue, we’ve put together a guide of warning signs and tips. Continue reading to learn more.

How Does Drowsiness Affect Driving Abilities? 

Being drowsy has major effects on your ability to drive. Drowsiness makes drivers less attentive, slows reaction times, and even affects a driver’s ability to make rational decisions. 

The Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving 

When it comes to avoiding driving while drowsy, there are warning signs you need to look out for, whether you are the driver or a passenger. If the driver (whether it be you or someone else) is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it’s imperative that the car is pulled over until it is safe to continue on your journey. 

  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Frequent blinking and dry eyes
  • Difficulty keeping eyes open 
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Hitting a rumble strip
  • Driving too close to cars in front of you
  • Nodding off
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Feeling restless or irritable 
  • Find yourself jerking your vehicle back into lane
  • Missing road signs or turns
  • Difficulty remembering the last few miles driven
  • Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts

How To Prevent Drowsy Driving

There are several things that you can (and should) do to help prevent drowsy driving:

Get A Full Night of Sleep

Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night in order to be fully rested, whereas adolescents need a full eight hours of sleep at least. If you know that you will be driving the next day, even if it’s a short drive, be sure that you get a full night’s rest. 

Avoid Driving Late at Night

After a long day’s work or a late-night party, it can be tempting to hop in the car and head home to your nice warm bed. It’s important to try and gauge how tired you are before getting behind the wheel. Depending on the situation, you might consider staying the night where you are or taking a taxi-cab home. 

Avoid Driving Alone 

Driving with others in the car may help you to stay awake. You can engage in light conversation so long as your focus is on the road. If you do find yourself driving alone, be sure to set the radio to a reasonable volume before you begin driving. Pro-tip: putting on a “talk-radio” station or a station that plays music you wouldn’t typically listen to can help to keep your brain engaged with its surroundings. 

Keep it Cool

Be sure to keep the temperature inside your vehicle cool by using the air conditioner or an open window. The cooler temperatures can help you to stay alert. 

Never Drive Under the Influence 

It should go without saying that you should never drive a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, however you should also consider the side effects of any medications that you may be taking. Some medications have the ability to make you drowsier, so you will want to be aware of that before getting behind the wheel.

What to Do if you Find Yourself Driving Drowsy

If you find yourself driving drowsy, pull off to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so. If you’re traveling with other people, you’ll want to ask someone else in the car if they would be able to drive. If you’re traveling alone, pull over to a safe location and rest for at least 30 minutes. If at that point you are still unable to drive, consider leaving your car in a safe place and calling someone you know, or a taxi to pick you up. 

At NYCM Insurance, we know that your safety comes first. For more information on safe driving, check out the link below!