‘Tis the season for late night parties, staying up to watch Christmas movies and hitting the road for long drives to grandmother’s house. This holiday season, over half of adults aged 18-64 will be driving while drowsy. Drowsy driving causes up to 100,000 police-reported crashes each year and results in over 1,500 deaths and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
Drowsy driving is difficult to attribute to a crash as there is no test to determine sleepiness like there is for intoxication. Many local police officers have not been formally trained in identifying drowsiness as a crash factor and many who suffer drowsy driving incidents are not fully honest in self-reporting.
As a result, while polls indicate that 13% of drivers admit to nodding off at the wheel at least once a month, the fact remains that not enough is being done to identify and prevent drowsy driving.
For starters, many of us underestimate the potential risks and dangers that are associated with drowsy driving. Add to that the fact that many people are overconfident in their abilities to fight sleep while behind the wheel and we have a growing problem on American roadways.
To help protect you from any drowsy driving-related accidents this holiday season, here are a few tips that you can use to make sure you are alert at the wheel:
Get Enough Sleep.
It may be the oldest advice in the book, but there’s a reason for it. Too little or too much sleep can cause tiredness and fatigue. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and do your best to establish a sleep routine (i.e. a bedtime of 10 pm each night).
Give Yourself The Gift Of Time.
When making long trips, it is essential that you allow yourself some extra time to arrive at your destination. This allows you to stop for breaks when needed. If you feel yourself starting to drift off, find a rest stop or even pull far off the shoulder and catch a quick nap.
Avoid Night Driving.
Driving at night is already difficult enough. But the lack of daylight does more than just limit visibility, it can increase the chances of becoming drowsy. Leave earlier in the morning and travel by daylight when possible.
Tag Team The Trip.
If your journey is longer than a few hours, it is always best to use the buddy system. This doesn’t necessarily mean team driving either. If you have a passenger with you, ask them to keep you alert. Engage in conversation, sing along with one another; anything to keep you awake and alert.
Holiday travel is wrought with car accidents. Many of them will be the result of irresponsible decisions like driving drowsy. Consider these tips before setting out on your Christmas journey this year and please do your part to keep the roads safe this holiday season; avoid driving drowsy.