Sleep is a powerful drive that can overtake anyone. When you go to bed, there is no conscious decision to fall asleep. Instead, you wait until sleep overtakes you. The body simply “switches off” the conscious mind without your “permission.” This is what makes drowsy driving so dangerous. No matter how hard you fight it, your conscious mind will turn off, and at that point, your car is moving 65 mph down the highway without a driver.
If you attempt various tricks to stay awake such as loud music and rolling down the window, you might keep your eyes open for a while longer. However, parts of the brain shuts down and goes into micro sleep. At this point you’re partially asleep with your eyes open. The trick to staying alert on the road is never allowing yourself to reach this state of extreme fatigue and sleep deprivation. Here are four suggestions on doing this:
Plan Your Trips
When planning your route, make sure there are rest stops for every two hours of driving. Use an average speed to figure out the distances. If you’re driving through a populated region during the daylight hours, little planning of this kind is needed. However, planning is required when driving late at night and in remote areas. Take these rests regardless of how alert you may feel.
Get 7 or 8 Hours of Sleep the Night before Your Trip
Starting your trip in a sleep deprived state only sets the stage for drowsy driving after being on the road for a few hours. If circumstances prevent adequate sleep the night before, take a 20 minute nap before your trip.
Take a Nap When You Feel the First Signs of Drowsiness
Heavy eyelids, yawning, drifting into a shoulder rumble strip, disconnected thoughts, or hearing the beginning dialog of a dream state means it’s time to get off the road at the next area where it’s safe. Don’t push your luck and get into a car accident. Turn up the music and roll down the window to keep yourself awake until you can pull over. Chewing gum is another short-term trick. Take a 20 minute nap at the rest stop followed by a cup of coffee.
Stay off the Road between Midnight and 6 AM
Your body has its greatest need for sleep during this time. You will need to sleep in any case, so call it a day and find a place to spend the night.
If a drowsy driver injured you in a car accident, discuss your legal options with a Hogan Injury lawyer. Contact us today for a free consultation.