Almost all drivers have found themselves, at times, fighting fatigue while behind the wheel. But what you might brush off as a minor inconvenience actually has major safety implications. Clearly, falling completely asleep while driving is highly dangerous, but simply being drowsy can reduce drivers’ reaction times and make them more prone to distractions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy motorists are responsible for about 2.5 percent of all crashes annually, including 2 percent of all injury-causing crashes. This amounts to roughly 5,000 to 6,000 accidents each year.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to stay alert while driving, even when covering long distances. Drivers are encouraged to consider the following:
- Watch for the warning signs. Are you yawning or blinking frequently? Can you remember the last few miles you drove? Did you drift over to a rumble strip? All of these issues can be signs that you are becoming drowsy and that you may need to take a break to rest.
- Take frequent breaks. If you are driving for several hours, frequent breaks are a necessity for keeping your concentration intact. Experts recommend a 20- to 30-minute break every couple of hours to stretch and get one’s blood pumping. Alternatively, you can make more frequent and brief stops to accomplish the same goal.
- Eat lightly. Sleepiness is a common occurrence after a heavy meal, so it’s best to try to eat smaller portions and consume snacks more often rather than indulging in more substantial fare before getting behind the wheel.
- Stop before you drop. It’s better to reach one’s destination a bit later than to never reach it at all. Stopping and resting is a better strategy to ensure that you remain alert for the rest of your journey.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash due to a drowsy or fatigued driver, speak with a skilled Indiana car accident attorney at Tabor Law Firm right away to schedule a free consultation.