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5 Tips to Help Avoid Drowsy Driving

Posted in Car Accidents on September 23, 2021

Safe driving requires the driver to be awake and attentive. When drivers are drowsy, they are more likely to make poor decisions and to have slower reaction time — increasing the odds of causing an accident.

Read on to learn more about drowsy driving accidents and how to avoid them.

How Common Is Drowsy Driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 91,000 police-reported crashes in the United States in 2017 involved drowsy driving, causing approximately 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths. These numbers underestimate the total impact of drowsy driving because they only involve police-reported crashes where drowsiness was identified as a contributing factor to the accident.

Certain categories of drivers are more susceptible to drowsy driving, including individuals who drive for a living like commercial truck drivers and delivery drivers. Shift workers are also more likely to suffer from drowsy driving either because they work at night or have worked for a long stretch of time. Drowsy driving accidents are more likely to occur between midnight and 6 a.m. and on rural roads and highways. Often the accidents involve only a single driver.

Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving

If you cause an accident because you are driving while drowsy, you might be responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. It’s important to ensure you are sufficiently rested and alert when behind the wheel of a vehicle. Consider implementing the following tips to avoid drowsy driving.

Take Regular Breaks

If you are starting to feel drowsy, stop your car and take five to ten minutes to stretch or go for a walk. Stretching increases the blood flow to the brain and other parts of the body which helps you stay awake. It also sends oxygen to your brain, helping clear your mind. Stop at least every 100 miles for a break.

If stretching doesn’t shake the drowsiness, consider taking a short nap. Even if you’re anxious to get to your destination, a crash will slow you down much more than a twenty-minute nap.

Avoid Driving During Peak Drowsy Times

If you have control over your driving schedule, avoid driving when you are most likely to be drowsy. Do your best to get on the road in the morning, a time when drivers are the most alert. The most dangerous drowsy driving times are in the afternoon and between midnight and 6 a.m. If you must drive during these times, be extra aware of your state of mind and get off the road if you begin to feel drowsy.

Drive with Company

You are less likely to doze off or zone out if you have a companion in the car with you. If you know you will be behind the wheel for a long stretch or that you will be driving at night, see if you can enlist someone to join you. A passenger will give you someone to talk to and also provides another set of eyes to watch out for signs for drowsy driving. If you become too sleepy to drive but don’t have time for a break, your passenger can take a turn driving.

Avoid Alcohol and Check Medications

Alcohol independently impairs your ability to make quick and qualified driving decisions. The problems only increase when you combine alcohol with drowsiness. Combining alcohol with drowsiness increases your level of impairment. No amount of alcohol in a driver’s system is considered safe if the driver is also suffering from drowsiness or inadequate sleep.

Also consider the effect of over the counter or prescription medication. Give special consideration to opioid pain relievers, anxiety medication, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, motion sickness medication, and products containing codeine. Be sure you follow the directions and read the warnings for any medication you take.

Pack Items to Keep Your Attention

Think strategically for any long car trip or anytime you will be driving during peak drowsiness times. There are certain things you can plan to bring that will help keep you awake and focused. First, bring media that will keep you awake and engaged. Whether it’s an audiobook, podcast, or lively music, choose something that will keep your attention instead of putting you to sleep. Pack snacks and caffeinated beverages. Eating regularly throughout the trip gives your body the energy it needs to stay awake, and caffeine can provide a temporary boost in energy when you really need it. While caffeine can help give you a boost, you risk crashing after the caffeine wears off, so be cautious and responsible if you plan to use caffeine to combat drowsiness.

While the above tips can help you stay alert while driving, the most important things to avoid drowsy driving are to get quality sleep and to know the signs for drowsiness. Get at least six hours of quality sleep before a long car trip. To make sure you get good sleep, follow quality sleep practices like removing electronic devices from your bedroom, avoiding food and caffeine before bed, and sleeping in a room that is quiet, dark, and relaxing.

No matter how much rest you get, drowsy driving is always a risk on long trips or late at night. If you notice any of the following warning signs, take advantage of one of the tips above:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Frequent blinking or heavy eyelids
  • Wandering or disconnected thoughts
  • Lack of memory of the last stretch of driving
  • Trouble holding up your head
  • Drifting across lanes
  • Feeling of restlessness or irritability

If you or a loved one was involved or injured in a drowsy driving accident in Louisiana, contact the team at the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Our firm works tirelessly on behalf of each of our clients to ensure they secure the recovery they deserve after a car accident, doing everything possible to bring out a positive outcome for our clients.

Contact the firm today at (504) 500-5000 or at our website to schedule an appointment.