It’s a long trip. Your eyes start to droop, but what’s 30 more minutes? The pitch-black sky and the dim lighting in your car are not helping, but you push on anyway. You start to count the mile markers in your head to keep yourself focused on not falling asleep.
Sixty percent of adults have experienced this exact feeling. They know that they should stop and take a break from driving, but they talk themselves out of it. Many don’t realize that driving while they’re drowsy can be as dangerous as drunk driving.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation has a terrifyingly similar effect on your body as alcohol while you drive. Going without 24 hours of sleep can affect your driving as if you were .02 above the legal limit. You cannot focus on the road, and your reflexes are impaired.
Although a lack of sleep may affect you like it would a drunk driver, there are differences. For example, a drowsy driver’s reflexes are so impaired that they may not swerve out of the way of an obstacle. They may continue to accelerate while they nod off. Whereas, a drunk driver will swerve continuously while braking often. They will most likely drive slowly so they can react if there was an obstacle.
How to combat drowsy driving
The signs of drowsy driving are apparent. If you feel your eyes getting heavy, trouble focusing on the road or your head nodding, pull over to a safe place. If you have a passenger willing to drive, ask to switch. If you are alone, you are better off taking a 20-minute nap in your car to recharge. Stopping to buy a caffeinated drink or taking a walk in the night air can also help to keep you alert.
Driving drowsy can be dangerous and, even, life threatening. You never know when you could fall asleep with your foot to the pedal. If you can stop for a while, take the opportunity. Keep yourself and other drivers safe on the roads if you’re traveling at night.