Car Safety: Falling Asleep at the Wheel
Alertness and caution are crucial aspects of car safety. A driver who is tired and sleepy can be very dangerous, both to himself and the people around him. A tired driver does not have the ability to react and make judgments quickly, and is more prone to crashing and negligent driving. It is therefore very important to ensure that you are alert and well rested every time you drive a vehicle.
What Makes People Fall Asleep at the Wheel?
Most drivers fall asleep at the wheel because of fatigue or boredom, or both. Some of the main causes of driver drowsiness are:
- Excessive workload – A person who works multiple jobs is much more likely to be drowsy behind the wheel. Statistics show that a person who works the night shift is prone to accidents because of drowsiness behind the wheel.
- Medications – Many medicines for cold and flu are available over the counter. However, most people do not realize that several of these medications can cause significant drowsiness and lethargy. It is important to read the label before consuming any medication, especially if you are about to commence a trip.
- Long Trips – A driver is more likely to be bored and drowsy on a long trip involving several hours. An effective way of preventing drowsiness on long trips is to have a driving partner if possible. Otherwise, you must take regular breaks. Never drive for hours at a stretch without taking a break. A small nap every couple of hours can also do wonders for your state of mind.
Recognizing the Signs of Driver Drowsiness
When you are on the road, it is easy to ignore the signs your body is giving you. Most drivers continue driving even when they are feeling tired, and this can be fatal. Learn to recognize the signs of drowsiness. Some of the top signs of drowsiness are yawning, tired eyes, restlessness and fidgeting, missing exits or turns, tailgating and inability to drive within the lane at all times.
Preventing and Combating Drowsiness behind the Wheel
- The best way of preventing driver fatigue is to ensure that you get plenty of rest before embarking on a trip. Never stay up late or skip on a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel. If you feel tired, avoid driving. Postpone the trip or let someone else drive.
- Avoid driving during the night, when you are usually in bed getting the rest your body needs. Your body clock will have some difficulty adjusting, and you can fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Eat and drink appropriately. Avoid heavy meals that make you feel tired. Never take medication that makes you feel drowsy.
- Take breaks at regular intervals. Try to take a nap when you feel tired. Coffee or other caffeinated beverages are also useful in preventing drowsiness behind the wheel.
- Avoid driving beyond a certain limit every day. If you have to go on a long trip, try to take a driving partner along. By engaging in conversation, a passenger next to you can be very helpful in preventing drowsiness.