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Top Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep at the Wheel

Travelers Today       By    Ernest Hamilton

Updated: Jul 26, 2021 09:59 AM EDT

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Top Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep at the Wheel

(Photo: Top Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep at the Wheel)

There are millions of auto accidents in America on an annual basis, leading to terribly tallies of deaths and injuries for those involved, and there are lots of different reasons behind the high number of crashes and collisions across the country.

Many accidents are caused by reckless driving, with a lot of drivers failing to follow the rules of the road and making foolish or careless mistakes, such as tailgating other vehicles, failing to use mirrors and signals, or exceeding the speed limit.

Other accidents are caused by things like driving under the influence, bad weather conditions, problems with the road, technical issues with the vehicle, and, the main subject of this article: driver fatigue.

An introduction to Driver Fatigue

Estimates suggest that over 90,000 crashes happen every year because of driver fatigue and people falling asleep at the wheel, so even though the idea might seem strange or unlikely to some people, it happens a lot more often than you might expect.

There are various explanations as to why someone might feel sleepy while driving. You might have a hectic life and long commutes, for example, or you may be suffering from sleeping problems like insomnia that make you feel excessively tired.

Either way, driver fatigue is something that no driver wants to experience. It can be really dangerous and could put your life, and the lives of those around you, in serious jeopardy. So let's take a look at some simple ways to avoid it.

Try to Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule

One of the more obvious ways to deal with driver fatigue and prevent yourself from falling victim to it is to simply try and make sure that you get enough sleep each night. Experts recommend that adults aim for around eight hours of sleep on a nightly basis, and this is a key part of living a healthy, happy life and reducing one's risk of mental and physical health disorders.

Of course, getting eight hours of sleep regularly is often easier said than done. Many people struggle with this, for various reasons. A good tip is to try and set yourself a sleep schedule, with clearly defined times for going to bed and getting up in the morning. This can help your body get into a rhythm and make it easier to drift off to sleep each night.

Find Ways to Improve Your Sleeping Patterns

Following on from the previous point, if you find that it's very difficult for you to get eight hours of rest each night, look for ways to change that. There's no need to simply suffer in silence or settle for things the way they are. Statistics show that around 70 million Americans have sleep disorders, but many of them are seeking treatment and taking action to get more rest.

There are lots of different things you can do to improve your sleeping habits. You can start by changing your pre-bed routine, for example, by trying to minimize your use of screens, as blue light from phones and other devices can interfere with your sleep schedule. Doing some yoga or meditation before bed can also help, and it's wise to reduce your intake of caffeine too.

Check Medication Labels

A common mistake that many drivers make is taking new medications before setting off on long journeys and failing to check the label for any possible side effects. Even simple, over the counter drugs and medicines can pose a risk of certain side effects, and "drowsiness" is one of the most common side effects you may encounter with many different forms of medication.

So, if you take certain types of pills or medicines for the first time and then set off on the open road, you might find yourself feeling unnaturally sleepy along the way, and you could end up in an accident. It's a wise idea to test out any new medications safely in the comfort of your own home to see how your body reacts before taking them in other situations.

Eat Well and Get Plenty of Exercise

Your lifestyle choices, such as your diet and the amount of physical activity you get each day, can also have a direct impact on your sleep patterns and your general ability to get to sleep and rest consistently each night. So you might want to take a look at your current lifestyle habits and make some changes in order to get more rest.

Lots of sugar and junk food in your diet could be giving you sugar spikes that make it harder to sleep, for example, and therefore cause you to be more fatigued in general. And a lack of exercise might also lead to you having excess energy. So try to eat healthily and get more physical activity each day. If you're driving, pack some healthy, high-energy snacks for the road and take breaks now and then to stretch your legs.

Don't Drive Alone

There are many advantages to driving with someone else in the car. They can be another set of eyes and ears to help you watch out for any dangerous situations, they can keep you entertained with conversation throughout long journeys, and they can also reduce the risk of you falling asleep behind the wheel too.

So, if you can, consider taking your longer journeys with a friend or family member by your side. They'll be able to talk to you and keep your energy levels up as you drive around, and they'll also be able to let you know if they notice any signs of fatigue in your voice or body language. If they have a license and insurance, they could even take over driving duties for a while and let you get some rest, if and when you need it.

Final Word

Drowsy driving causes lots of accidents and leads to a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering every single year, which is why it's so important to try and avoid it in your own life. Keep these tips in mind to help yourself stay safe on the roads.

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