We all know how dangerous driving drunk is and how it results in car accidents. There are endless resources like ride-sharing and designated driving that have been set up to help stop drunk driving.
So why aren’t we doing anything about drowsy driving? It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t get behind the wheel drunk, but I’m willing to guess that you’ve hopped on the freeway late at night when you definitely shouldn’t have.
Drowsy driving is extremely dangerous. Studies have shown that a sleep-deprived brain has reduced activity in the same areas that are inhibited by alcohol and intoxication. Yes, driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk.
Don’t drive by yourself:
Unless you’re on a road trip of one, make sure to split up the driving on long trips. Long trips are one of the most common causes of drowsy driving and can easily be prevented with multiple drivers.
We all start to fatigue after hours at the wheel. There’s no shame in asking someone else to take over. It may save your life.
Don’t be afraid to stop:
Sometimes you just need to call it for the night. Whether you’re driving up the coast or across the country, there’s never a bad time to stop and get a hotel for the night. It’s better to break up the driving than to crash and injure yourself because you wanted to get where you were going just a little faster.
If you don’t need to stay a whole night, even just stopping at a rest area for a short nap can be hugely beneficial. You want to make sure your brain has enough time to regroup and reactivate so that you’re at your best while driving.
Make sure you’re sleeping before trips:
While you’re working late before your time off or staying up to pack, it’s easy to let your sleep schedule slip a little bit. Make sure that you are going into a long drive well-rested, especially if you are going by yourself.
If you’re currently enjoying a vacation and not looking forward to your long drive back, be sure you aren’t over exhausting yourself during your trip. You need to be well-rested if you are going to drive back safely.
What to do if you’re in an accident:
Do your best not to panic. If you were in an accident of any type you should immediately stop your car if it’s not already and alert the police and paramedics. Someone could be seriously injured, even if it doesn’t appear obvious at first. It can be really tempting to just talk out the damages between you and the other driver, but that is never the best idea.
Report the incident, get to safety, and focus on making sure both parties are safe. Drowsy driving doesn’t carry the same penalties as drunk driving, but make sure you are completely honest and forthcoming with the authorities. If you were driving half-asleep, the accident may very well have been your fault. Just make sure you are accurately representing what happened and remaining accountable after the fact.
As you can hopefully tell by now, drowsy driving is no joke. Not only can it cause serious harm to yourself and others, but it is also completely preventable. So many drowsy driving incidents are caused when individuals are convinced that speed and efficiency in their travel are more important than their safety and that of those around them. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and look at the bigger picture so you can remember what really matters.