With the Holidays nearly upon us, we will soon be hitting the road to attend a slew of office parties, family dinners and other celebrations. While drunk driving claims fewer victims now than it did a few years ago (thanks to the effectiveness of awareness campaigns), the same cannot be said of drowsy driving.
It seems many drivers do not take the risks of drowsy driving very seriously. And yet, drowsy drivers are involved in one out of every six deadly car crashes and one in eight accidents resulting in serious injury. While most drivers recognize the risk of drowsy driving, they don’t act accordingly: a survey conducted in the United States found that 96 percent of respondents said drowsy driving is an unacceptable behaviour, but nearly one-third admitted to doing it in the past month. Furthermore, two out of five drivers admitted they had fallen asleep at the wheel at some point.
When you’re driving, some of the warning signs that you need to take a break include difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused, heavy eyelids, difficulty keeping your head up, drifting from your lane, hitting rumble strips, inability to clearly remember the last few kilometers driven, yawning repeatedly and rubbing your eyes, and feeling irritable or restless. If you experience these signs, it’s time to take a break!
Here are a few tips to avoid drowsy driving:
- Get enough sleep the night before a long trip
- Stop driving if you become sleepy, and take a break at least every two hours when driving long distances
- Travel at times when you are normally awake, if possible
- Drink a caffeinated beverage
- Travel with a passenger who is awake and take turns driving when you get tired
Especially in this season of celebrations, ask yourself a few questions before getting behind the wheel. Are the road conditions too poor to be driving? Have you been drinking? Are you feeling too tired to drive? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it is best to opt for an alternate plan. Your safety and that of your loved ones is at stake.