Most people already know that getting behind the wheel of a car when you are falling asleep is extremely dangerous. However, what happens when you drive at night and suddenly start to feel tired or drowsy? If you have to be on the road, it’s crucial to fight off the nighttime drowsiness and stay awake while driving, or pull over and get some rest. When you are drowsy, reaction times will slow and impair your judgment. You might not even know you fell asleep until you crash into another person or property.
Drowsy drivers can severely injure or kill other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. If you or someone you love sustained injuries in an accident caused by a fatigued or drowsy driver, you could have the right to bring a claim for damages. Speak with a Washington auto vehicle accident lawyer at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC to learn more.
Statistics on Fatigue-Related Accidents
Driving while sleepy can be just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel of a car when you are intoxicated. The National Safety Council (NSC) compiled results from multiple agencies showing the dangers of driving while sleep-deprived.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates there are approximately 100,000 police-reported, drowsy-driving crashes that cause around 50,000 injuries and almost 800 deaths each year; and
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Studies shows there are around 328,000 drowsy driving crashes each year, with approximately 109,000 crashes resulting in injuries and 6,400 fatalities.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studies reports significantly higher numbers. Their researchers believe the number of fatalities resulting from drowsy drivers is 350% greater than what gets reported.
That is why it’s crucial to stay awake while driving. If you regularly drive at night or you have a big road trip coming up, here are some helpful tips for how to stay awake while driving long distances.
Change Your Habits at Home
If you are searching for how to stay awake while driving, you need to know that staying alert on the road starts with making changes in your everyday life. If you aren’t eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and sleeping enough, you may be drowsy on a regular basis. Your body needs significant rest to recharge and keep you functioning all day. People who regularly drive long distances, such as commercial truck drivers, are more at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel. These accidents are often catastrophic due to the size and weight of a truck versus a passenger vehicle.
Recognize the Signs of Drowsy Driving
One of the best things you can do for yourself and the safety of others is to recognize when you are getting tired and should not continue driving. Are you struggling to keep your eyes open or yawning repeatedly? You might find that you are drifting between lanes or missing turns and road signs. Do you feel your head is bobbing around and you might be nodding off? If you struggle to remember driving the last few miles, you could be falling asleep. These are all signs you need to pull over as soon as it’s safe.
Drive with a Friend
If you are planning a long road trip, don’t do it alone. Drive with a friend whenever possible. You can take turns and switch off drivers when one of you is tired. You can take a quick nap while your travel companion drives and then switch off again.
Take a Nap Beforehand
If you are planning a nighttime drive and are concerned about staying awake, take a nap before you leave. It’s better to get a decent amount of sleep the night before, so you are well-rested that entire day. However, taking a nap before you get on the road can help ward off that drowsy feeling when you’re driving at night.
Turn on the Radio
Music can be one of the best ways to stay awake while driving. Listening to upbeat music can help you fight off boredom and fatigue. Consider some of your favorite songs where you know the words. Singing along can help stimulate your brain. Studies have shown a direct correlation between music and mental alertness. However, remember not to become too distracted by changing stations, playlists, etc. Taking your eyes off the road and fidgeting with your phone or radio can also cause a collision.
Grab a Coffee and Stretch Your Legs
Sometimes, getting out of the vehicle to stretch your legs for a couple of minutes can help fight off drowsiness. If you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, run into a nearby store or gas station to get something to drink.
Pull Over Somewhere Safe
If all else fails, look for somewhere safe to pull over for a little bit. When your body and mind are too tired, you shouldn’t continue driving. It’s not worth the risk of injuring yourself or other innocent people on the road. Sometimes, you cannot stay awake while driving, no matter what you do. That is when it’s time to pull over and rest so you can recharge.
Get a Car with Crash Avoidance Technologies
Obviously, not everyone can go out and purchase a new vehicle. However, if you are already in the market for a new car, check out the list of standard and available features on the models you are considering. Many newer vehicles come equipped with safety features such as lane departure warnings and drowsiness alerts. These vehicles can detect common drowsy driving patterns and warn a driver to keep in their lane or pull over and take a break. It’s no substitute for ample sleep and safe driving techniques, but it may help prevent a fatal collision if you unexpectedly find yourself getting drowsy.
Contact a Washington Auto Vehicle Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a car accident with a drowsy driver, don’t attempt to pursue compensation on your own. Instead, contact the experienced team of Washington auto vehicle accident lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC to schedule an initial consultation. We have over four decades of experience assisting clients just like you.
Our attorneys understand how stressful a car accident claim can be. You don’t have to go through it alone. Let us put our expertise to work for you and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.