Even if you feel good when you first get behind the wheel, it's possible to become drowsy at some point. This is particularly true if you're on the road for an extended period of time.
Fortunately, the more you learn about drowsy driving, the easier it is to avoid trouble. While you can't control what other drivers do in regard to their level of alertness, you can make changes to your driving style.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013, more than 40,000 people were injured in drowsy driving related accidents. This is in addition to the nearly 1,000 people who were killed.
Are you likely to drive drowsy?
Anyone can fall asleep at the wheel, but some people are more likely to drive drowsy. These people include:
- Commercial drivers who spend a lot of time on the road
- People with a sleep disorder
- Anyone who drives when they're not well rested
- People who take prescription medication that causes drowsiness
Regardless of whether you fit into one of these groups, it's important to understand the warning signs of drowsy driving:
- Frequent blinking and yawning
- Missing your turn
- Drifting out of your lane
- Hitting an object on the side of the road
If you experience any of these symptoms, don't fight through it with the hope that you'll safely reach your destination. It's better to pull to the side of the road, get some rest and then continue forward when you feel up to the task.
How to prevent trouble
If you have concerns about drowsy driving, do these things:
- Get as much sleep as possible every night
- If you have a sleep disorder, seek immediate medical treatment
- Don't do anything that increases the chance of becoming drowsy, such as drinking alcohol
You should always beware that drivers around you may not be as alert as you. For example, if you're driving at night, there's a good chance that you're in close proximity to people who are not 100 percent focused on the road.
If a drowsy driver causes an accident, move your car to the shoulder of the road and then call 911. Explain what went wrong and wait for police to arrive at the scene.
As you focus on your treatment and recovery, work with your insurance company to obtain the compensation you deserve. Also, look into the steps you can take to hold the drowsy driver responsible for the crash.