By Chuck Mai, AAA
Wake up to the facts about drowsy driving.
If you think its okay to keep driving after you start to feel sleepy, consider this: If you dozed off for just a few seconds on a highway, you could travel the length of a football field in an unconscious state at a speed above 60 mph – which could all combine to cause a fatal collision.
Despite the obvious dangers, 41 percent of American drivers surveyed in 2010 admitted to having fallen asleep or nodded off behind the wheel at some point in their lives. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the National Sleep Foundation are raising awareness about these dangers, especially with the holidays coming up and families tempted to drive way too many miles per day. Sleep experts say motorists should drive no more than 400 to 500 miles per day. After that, fatigue sets in, despite what you may think at the time, and you’re rolling the dice.
Follow these tips to stay alert and keep everyone safe:
—Get a good night’s sleep before you set out.
—Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination; instead of making good time, concentrate on making your time behind the wheel good.
—It’s much better to allow time to rest before you drive – or stop for rest along the way.
—Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
—Avoid alcohol. It impairs your driving ability, and even “just one” can cause drowsiness.
—Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh. Before leaving home, plan your stops to include interesting things to do, both for you and your passengers.
—If all else fails, find a safe place to pull over and take a 15-to 20-minute nap. Even that short a time to sleep can work wonders to refresh you. However, be cautious about excessive drowsiness after you wake up.
Bottom line: opening car windows, pinching yourself, turning up the car radio, stopping for a stretch – none of those things do any good. There is just no substitute for good old-fashioned sleep.