Tips To Completely Change Your Drowsy Driving Habits

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How To Completely Change Your Drowsy Driving Habits

falling asleep at the wheel

falling asleep at the wheel

Key Points in This Article:

  • Driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, and over half of these types of crashes involve deadly head-on collisions.
  • Driving while sleepy only exacerbates bad driver behaviors such as being easily distracted and not being able to react in time to prevent a crash.
  • From 2016-2017, 1,352 Michiganders suffered serious and minor injuries as a result of drowsy driving crashes.
  • To avoid becoming a drowsy driver, adopt a healthy sleep routine and recognize that the symptoms of sleepiness, such as inattentiveness and lane drifting, are early warning signs to pull over.

Stop Driver Fatigue and Drowsiness Before It Happens

Driving drowsy, which causes more than 100,000 crashes each year according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, can profoundly impair one’s driving ability and is said to be as dangerous as driving drunk. Drowsy driving crashes most frequently occur between midnight and 6 a.m., late afternoon and early evening rush hours and are more likely to be fatal and result in more head-on collisions. Roads are typically more crowded during these times, and drivers are adjusting to their body’s natural rhythms of awakening, changing routines and resting.

10 Ways You Can Stay Alert While Driving

Signs of drowsy driving include excessive yawning, slow eyelid closures or squinting, a sway or bobbing head, finding yourself lost in thought or easily distracted, seat fidgeting, difficulty staying in your lane, missing an exit, fluctuating driving speed, and delayed reactions to traffic lights, pedestrians or stopped vehicles.

If you’ve ever started to doze off behind the wheel, you must find a safe place to pull over to rest or change drivers. If you’re only slightly fatigued and have determined it is safe to continue on the road, try one of these stay alert tactics.

  1. Feel the Cooler Air: A little wind in your face might be the perfect medicine for your malaise. Roll down your windows and let the wind whip around your car.
  2. Partner with a Passenger: If you are traveling with people, invite your passengers to ask you questions or allow you to tell them a story. The conversation should stimulate your mind but not be too distracting. If that doesn’t work, invite one of your passengers to drive for a short time while you rest.
  3. Listen To An Audio Book, Music or Podcast: Turn up the volume and stay engaged with a favorite playlist, book or podcast to energize yourself and mind for the duration of your drive. Don’t allow adjusting your personal device or in-vehicle technology to distract you though.
  4. Take a Pre-Drive Nap: Even a 20-minute nap before you hit the road will help you feel more alert for your drive. If you still feel sleepy after a quick doze, know that this is natural, and it will soon go away as your body awakens.
  5. Avoid Cruise Control

If you fall asleep behind the wheel when your car is in cruise control, it could be fatal. Plus, operating the gas pedal manually requires more focus, helping you stay alert.

  1. Eat Healthy Snacks, Chew Gum or Drink Water

Grab a pack of gum, a protein bar and some water to boost your energy before you hit the road. Avoid sugary drinks and other junk food snacks as those can make you feel more tired as your body works harder to process them.

  1. Grab ‘Some’ Caffeine

Mini servings of tea or coffee will help sustain a driver’s level of alertness, but it won’t provide a long session of energy. Instead, a caffeine overload, especially those loaded with sugar, can leave you more tired than before.

  1. Lower the Temperature

Keep the temperature a little cooler than you prefer, but not so cold that you’re shivering and unable to concentrate. A chillier climate will remove you from your comfort zone and help you stay awake.

  1. Make a Stop for a Quick Walk: If you’re feeling the signs of being sleepy, pull over and do some stretching or go for a quick brisk walk. This will help get you some fresh air and your heart pumping to wake you up.
  2. Wear Sunglasses: This means having sunglasses on or your visor down. Squinting for long periods can cause eye fatigue which leads to overall drowsiness.

The best way to avoid becoming a drowsy driver is to get uninterrupted sleep before operating a vehicle, schedule breaks about every two hours during long trips and share driving responsibilities with other passengers. Alcohol and drugs can cause sudden sleepiness, so never drive after drinking booze or taking drugs.

Michigan Drowsy Driver Crash Facts

Last year, the Office of Highway Safety Planning recorded 3,425 crashes where a driver identified as “fatigued or asleep” in Michigan. This is an increase from the 3,281 drowsy driving crashes in 2016 statewide.

  • Eleven people in Michigan died in crashes where there was at least one drowsy driver, down from 20 fatalities in 2016.
  • From 2016-2017, 1,352 Michiganders suffered serious and minor injuries as a result of drowsy driving crashes.
  • Commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tow trucks, tractor-trailers, and buses and shift workers are more likely to drive tired.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report these drowsy driving trends:

  • Driving drowsy or “fatigued or asleep” driving can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.
  • Generally, men are more likely to be involved in drowsy driving crashes than women.
  • More than half of drivers who said they fell asleep at the wheel said it happened on an interstate or highway.
  • Over half of these crashes involve the tired driver drifting into another lane or off the road completely.

If you are behind the wheel and feel the need to rest, find a safe place to pull over and take a break. If you are consistently feeling sleepy while driving, you may have a sleep disorder or an underlying health problem and should talk to your physician about treatment options.

Contact Us Now About Your Michigan Drowsy Driving Accident Injury

If you have been injured in a car or truck crash caused by a drowsy driver, the motor vehicle accident injury attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm are ready to support your claim. Not only can a personal injury lawsuit help ease financial burdens, but it can also help create awareness to prevent driver errors that pose danger to other road users.

Please call and speak to our car accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.

Also read: Commercial Truck Accidents and Proving Truck Driver Negligence