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Sleepy behind the wheel? Tips to combat drowsy driving

Driving is an activity that takes a person’s full and undivided attention. Everyone knows and worries about the dangers of drinking while driving and distracted driving, but what about another major threat to roadway safety in Maryland, drowsy driving?

This risk might sound miniscule to you, but in reality, there are drivers on the roads every day who are too fatigued to properly operate their vehicle. Drowsy driving is a problem with a potential solution, but it takes the efforts and mindfulness of many to combat the issue. To reduce the likelihood of experiencing a drowsy driving accident, consider some key reminders.

The impact of drowsy driving

Driving when you are too tired affects your response rates, attentiveness and alertness behind the wheel. The problem is not as small as many would like to believe. Studies have shown that one in 25 drivers report falling asleep behind the wheel in just the prior 30 days alone. More than half of adult drivers say they have driven a car when they felt too tired to do so.

Fatal crashes from drowsy driving result in the deaths of thousands of motorists each year. Some drivers are more likely to engage in this dangerous practice with 18-29-year-olds much more likely than other age groups to drive drowsy.

A perhaps obvious demographic is commercial drivers who are at a heightened risk of crashing due to sleepiness. These drivers are also more likely to be on the roads at peak drowsy crash times, from midnight to 6 a.m. Another time period ridden with drowsy driving accidents is the late afternoon when drivers leave work or take other trips in heavier traffic.

Preventing drowsy driving accidents

There are some simple solutions for combating drowsy driving as a habit in your life. The most important thing to do is to maintain a healthy, consistent sleep schedule, particularly for your age group. Teenaged drivers need more sleep but are often less likely to get adequate rest, so parents should watch for their child’s potential drowsy driving.

Beyond a healthy sleep schedule, develop some practices to combat drowsy driving. Caffeine is a helpful aid, but it is not a total solution. If necessary and safe, pull over for a 20-minute power nap and get some caffeine as a longer-term solution to drowsiness. For those with sleep disorders or on drowsiness-inducing medications, consult with a physician regarding how to best fight sleepiness behind the wheel.

Accidents caused by drowsy driving may involve only one car going off the road, or they may involve other vehicles. Take the necessary precautions to avoid this behavior and help keep the roads safer for all travelers.

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