100,000 police-reported accidents each year are a direct result of driving while fatigued. How do you fend off sleep behind the wheel? Read our tips for drowsy driving.
Have you gotten your second wind after a week of Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties? If you’re still recovering from late nights, obscene consumptions of hot wings, and the possibly embarrassing keg stand attempt (I’m looking at you, grandma) chances are your mind and body need some serious rest.
And while we’d all love to inhabit our beds for a few days, the average American can’t miss that many shifts at work. So when your energy is running low, self care should become first priority-- and preventing yourself from falling asleep at the wheel is high on that list.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 100,000 police-reported accidents each year are a direct result of driving while fatigued. These reported accidents include consequences such as death, serious injury, and monetary property damage.
Much like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving while sleep deprived is impaired driving that affects your skills and judgement calls. And while it should be avoided at all cost, it’s sometimes inevitable for the less privileged. For example, you could live in an area that doesn’t offer public transportation or you can’t afford to spend money on ride sharing. Many people admit to driving drowsy because they:
Stayed up too late to study
Stayed at a party too late
Work the night shift
Of course, your reason for driving while fatigued might not be listed above, but the consequences are usually the same. In order to avoid an accident, try some of these sleepy self-care tips:
- Pull Over, Power Nap
If you ever feel yourself nodding off while driving, pull over onto the shoulder or into a parking lot to rest my eyes for a few minutes. Even a quick five-minute nap can refresh you. If you’re pulling onto the side of the road at night make sure to put your hazard lights on in order to make your presence known.
- Cat Nap
To help fight off drowsiness before driving it can be helpful to close your eyes and rest for a few minutes. Even if that means spending that time in the bathroom, the backseat of your car, or at your desk. No matter how short it may seem, a cat nap can truly aid in helping you get home without fear of falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Car Karaoke
Turn up that music! When you start feeling yourself drifting, turn your radio up and sing loudly. The movement of your mouth and the beat of the song can wake you up a little. I know we all love the slow tempo of Sam Smith, but slow songs don’t have the necessary melody to get your attention. So stick to the club hits for this ride home.
- Chug, Chug, Chug Water
You feel even more sleepy when you’re dehydrated, so try to drink enough liquids throughout the day. If you’re in a pinch though, drinking a pint of cold water will make you more alert in a short amount of time.
- Take Deep Breaths
Quickly breath in and out through your nose, pulling your stomach towards your diaphragm. This simple technique can be done while driving and help you feel more awake.
- Scrub a dub dub
If you have time to take a shower before your trip, cold water is a great way to fend off sleep. If you’re at work, splash some cold water on your face and you’ll pretty much get the same benefits.