There’s no such thing as an innocent yawn when you’re behind the wheel. Drowsy driving can be deadly. Fatigued drivers are the cause of over 100,000 collisions, 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 injuries annually in the U.S., notes the National Safety Council.
March is National Sleep Awareness Month and Daylight Saving Time starts on March 8. That’s two good reasons to make the time right now to remind your drivers to be aware of the signs of drowsy driving, and what to do to avoid the problem.
Here are some of the common signs that you’re sleepy while driving:
- Yawning, head nodding and/or heavy eyelids
- Swerving or drifting out of your lane
- Missing your exit
- Feeling unfocused and/or irritable
To avoid drowsy driving, experts recommend the following:
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep consistently.
- Don’t use electronic devices prior to bedtime.
- Limit alcohol and food intake four hours before bedtime.
- Get regular exercise.
Once on the road, make sure to:
- Eat lightly; heavy foods can make you sleepy.
- Take a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
- Stretch your legs or do some jumping jacks to increase your energy.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Drink coffee or juice if you feel fatigued; the caffeine and the sugar can give you a boost, but don't depend on it entirely.
- Pull over to a rest stop and take a short nap.