Wake up! Occasionally we drive when we’re sleepy. Bad idea. Of every eight fatal crashes, one involves a drowsy driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Sleepiness slows reaction times and impairs judgment; people who are very sleepy drive much like people who are drunk.
To prevent drowsiness:
- Get at least six hours of sleep the night before a trip.
- Travel at times when you are normally awake.
- On long trips, stay overnight rather than driving between midnight and 6 a.m., the hours when drivers are especially likely to have sleep-related crashes.
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
If you begin to feel drowsy while driving:
- Drink coffee or tea with caffeine.
- Get out of the car and exercise.
- Pull over and take a nap; 15 or 20 minutes of sleep can be enough to restore your alertness.
Drivers ages 16 to 24 have nearly three times more risk of sleep-related crashes than more mature drivers. Young drivers should be especially careful to:
- Make sleep—at least 8½ hours a night—a priority.
- Never drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or sleepiness, or ride with anyone who is.
For more strategies, visit AAA.com/drivingtips.
This article was first published in November 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.