November 5-11 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Drowsiness makes it harder to concentrate on activities and events such as a work meeting, homework, and driving. Driving while you’re tired decreases your ability to focus on the road and process what you see. To effectively avoid the dangers presented by drowsy driving, you should first be able to recognize the warning signs.
Drowsiness presents itself in various ways. While tired, your level of alertness lowers and your reaction times slow down. You’ll have difficulty processing and remembering things, your vision and judgment will become impaired, and you will be more easily agitated or frustrated. These symptoms translate into reckless and dangerous behavior on the road. You might think you can power through the tiredness and drive fine, but most people have no clue they’re drowsy until they’ve already fallen asleep! Think about it. When’s the last time you remember the exact moment you fell asleep? Never, right? So while you might think you’re “not that tired,” you should be absolutely sure that you’re fully awake and prepared to drive before getting in the driver’s seat. This will help keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe while on the road.
Whether you’re driving home after a long day at work or driving home for the holidays after finals, your safety should always be the top priority. Before heading out on the road, you should have gotten at least seven hours of sleep. If you’re worried about staying awake while driving, but absolutely have to make the trip, bring someone with you who will talk to you and keep you alert during the drive. Scheduling breaks every two hours and taking turns driving with a buddy will help with fatigue. If you ever find yourself experiencing signs of drowsiness while driving, pull into the next rest stop to take a nap or find a place to sleep for the night.
There is no tried and true test that can determine drowsiness. This means it’s up to you to use your common sense and avoid driving while drowsy. Stay safe on the road this holiday season!