Drowsy driving dangers

Whether you're making the morning commute to work or driving through the night, you're bound to experience drowsiness while driving at some point. Unfortunately, most of us feel it every day, and it's a common cause for accidents on the road. Car accidents can raise your auto insurance premiums and put you and others at risk for injury. Learn more about drowsy driving and how to prevent it.

A real problem
We might not even notice what our bodies are trying to tell us when we yawn during a morning drive or our heads start to bob on a late-night cruise. Ignoring these warning signs is a recipe for disaster. In fact, driving while tired is a growing problem in the U.S.

"Drowsy driving is the culprit behind more than 100,000 U.S. accidents each year, and 16.5 percent of deadly ones," Mike Martinez, DMEautomotive's chief marketing officer, told USA Today in an interview.

In our busy lives, we keep plowing through our daily tasks regardless of how tired we may feel. However, statistics like these should be a wake-up call, so know what to look for when evaluating whether or not you should be behind the wheel. Not being able to keep your eyes open, nodding off, drifting out of your lane, forgetting the past few miles of the drive, and missing a turn or road sign are all common symptoms of drowsy driving. If you experience any of these circumstances while you're on the road, pull over as soon as possible.

How to stay awake
Listening to loud music, singing, talking to oneself, opening the windows, blasting the air conditioning - these typical tactics for fighting drowsiness while driving are not effective according to USA today. When it comes to potentially saving your life and those of the drivers around you, its important to do things that will work.

If the vision of your headlights against the darkened night road is starting to escape beneath your drooping eyelids, pull over to take a rejuvenating nap. When traveling with other passengers, let someone else who is better rested take over.

A strong cup of coffee is effective for a short-term boost, but make sure you drink it before you get tired. According to caffeineinformer, caffeine can take up to 45 minutes to fully kick in. So if you know you have a long road ahead of you, stop at a gas station and fill up on coffee or an energy drink.

A study cited by USA Today says that driving when you haven't had enough sleep can be just as bad as driving drunk. When a driver has been awake for 21 or more hours, his or her ability to drive matches that of someone with a .08 blood-alcohol concentration. Just as a drunk driver should phone a cab, you shouldn't get behind the wheel unless you've had enough sleep.

Planning ahead
There are times of the day, week, month and year where your potential to be tired is much higher. For instance, adjusting to Daylights Saving Time can be problematic for many commuters who will have to wake up an hour earlier than they are use to. Starting the work week or going back to work after time off can be a challenging adjustment for some people, too. Consider the times when you experience the most fatigue, and come up with a driving plan.

While pulling over to take a nap can really help you feel more awake, it's not always a practical option when driving to work in the morning. The better alternative is to be well-rested when you get behind the wheel. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults age 26 to 64 years get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Make sure you get a good sleep so you are better prepared for the morning commute.

Carpooling is another option to combat driving while tired. Having someone else in the car will not only help you stay awake, but your car comrade could get behind the wheel if you're too sleepy. Set up a schedule with your coworkers so that you know which days you'll be driving and can plan to be well-rested.

Staying alert while driving is key to preventing accidents. Plus, many insurance companies reward safe driving. CoverHound provides a quick and easy way to find the best auto insurance rate.

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