Did you know that driver fatigue is a factor in as many as 50 percent of traffic accidents in the United States? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2013 and 2017, drowsy driving contributed to 4,111 traffic fatalities. In 2017 alone, drowsy or fatigued driving contributed to 91,000 traffic accidents.
These numbers how dangerous it is to drive while fatigued on U.S. roadways. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to beat driver fatigue.
Tips for Beating Driver Fatigue
If you are planning to take one last road trip this summer, consider these tips for beating driver fatigue:
- Get Adequate Sleep – Before a road trip, it is incredibly important to get a good night’s sleep. Experts recommend at least 7-8 hours of sleep before driving.
- Avoid Alcohol – You may know not to drink and drive, but experts recommend that you avoid alcohol entirely before driving. Consuming alcohol impairs your sleep cycle and increases sleepiness.
- Check Medications – If you take prescription medications, make sure you check the labels before driving. Some medications will make you drowsy, so you should avoid taking them right before driving.
- Plan your Trip – Avoid driving during peak sleeping hours, such as between midnight and 6 a.m. You may want to avoid traffic, but driving during these hours can increase sleepiness, especially if you are alone.
- Energize Yourself – Caffeine may help you stay alert in a pinch. But it is not recommended to rely on this to stave off fatigue or replace a good night’s sleep.
- Take a Nap – If you are driving and find yourself falling asleep, find a place to pull over and take a short nap. Choose a populated, well-lit area, such as a rest stop or welcome center. Research shows that even a 20-minute nap can help increase alertness.
- Switch Drivers – If you are traveling with another licensed driver, switch out every few hours so that you both have time to rest and/or take a nap.
- Eat a Snack – Eating a snack that is tart or tangy or crunchy can help your mind wake up and be alert.