3 safety tips for those too tired to drive

Drowsy driving can end in injury-causing or even fatal accidents; use these tips to stay awake and get home safely

By C1 Staff

With jail staff working longer and longer hours, the potential of getting into a car accident while trying to get home grows higher. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Sleep foundation report that drowsy driving causes 100,000 crashes each year that result in nearly 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities.

So what can you do when it’s the end of your shift, and you just want to get home, but you’re too tired to drive? Here are some things to consider, and some steps to take.

Understand the problem
The National Sleep Foundation’s statistics on drowsy driving are pretty surprising. Sixty percent of adults have driven while sleepy, and 42 percent of people who drive when sleepy report feeling stressed on the road. Another 32 percent lose patience, and another 12 percent speed up. Neither is a good idea!

The Foundation even reports that 37 percent of people admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. You don’t want to be one of those people.

Heed warning signs
If you’re starting to yawn, or even nodding off, think twice about getting on the road. Instead, take a 15-20 minute nap (use an alarm on your watch or phone to wake yourself up) if you’re in a safe spot.

But what if you’re already driving and you experience these symptoms? If there’s another passenger in the car, ask them to drive. If you’re alone, pull over and take a nap, or even get out and take a quick walk (in a safe spot) to refresh yourself. If you’re driving on a long trip, be sure to take a break every two hours.

You can also adjust your car’s settings to prevent or prohibit drowsiness. Try keeping the temperature cool, playing loud, high-energy music, turning off cruise control and putting your seat in an upright position.

Seek assistance
There are lots of gadgets on the market intended to help you be a safe driver. Fatigue warning systems track your steering, blink rate duration and other behaviors, and alert you when they detect sleepiness.

Lane departure warning and prevention systems monitor your vehicle’s position and react if you’re in danger of drifting into another lane.

Forward collision warning systems use sensors to follow vehicles in front of yours and may engage automatic braking to prevent accidents.

What tips or tricks have you used to keep from falling asleep behind the wheel after a long shift?

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