Feature image: Sinitta Leunen (Pexels)
According to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the risk of you being involved in a car accident spikes with every hour of lost sleep. Crazy, hey?
Many people are not fully aware of the adverse outcomes that drowsy driving carries. Drowsy driving is a state in which a person becomes inattentive and feels sleepy, resulting in slower reaction time towards the objects on the road. This considerably reduces the driver’s and occupants’ safety and also puts other road users at risk. Research by the AAA Foundation found that about 20 per cent of fatal accidents in the US involve a drowsy driver. In South Africa, statistics are just as severe.
Here are a few signs to look out for while on the road:
· Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids;
· Daydreaming; wandering or disconnected thoughts;
· Trouble remembering the last few kilometers driven; missing exits or traffic signs;
· Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes;
· Trouble keeping your head up;
· Feeling restless and irritable;
If you notice any of these warning signs, stop your vehicle immediately and take a nap of at least 20 minutes. Unfortunately, sleep is the only cure for drowsy driving – just make sure you park at a safe place.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so also make sure to check out these tips from motus.cars to help prevent drowsy driving altogether:
- Don’t drive alone
Having someone to keep you company while you are driving will help keep you awake. Plus, now you have two people keeping an eye on the warning signs mentioned above. You can also switch driver seats frequently to break up large chunks of long-distance driving.
- Avoid driving at night
You are naturally sleepier at night than you are during the day (you can thank our biological clock). This will put you at higher risk for drowsy driving during the night. Driving in the dark is also less stimulating because there is less to see to keep you awake.
- Take breaks
Stop regularly for breaks, get some fresh air, grab a coffee and stretch your legs.
- Make sure you are well rested
Make sure you get at least 7 – 8 hours of good quality sleep before hitting the road.