Drowsy driving contributed to about 800 deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is not clear how many of those deaths involved people on vacation. However, road trips can involve conditions that may increase your chance of being in a drowsy driving collision.
Road trips often involve much more time behind the wheel than you may be used to. The roads you travel can be boring. You may be tempted to leave early in the morning to avoid traffic. You may also take few breaks and drive through the night to get to your destination sooner. However, these factors can cause fatigue, which can reduce your reaction times, your ability to sustain attention and your awareness of hazards.
Get a good night’s sleep
Getting enough sleep is the best way to prevent drowsy driving. If you are planning a road trip, make sure you get everything packed and ready to go early enough the day before. Staying up late finishing preparations can leave you drowsy the next morning. If you plan to get up earlier than you regularly do, try to go to bed earlier too. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night, the necessary amount for a typical adult.
Avoid driving at high-risk times
The times of day that most drowsy driving collisions occur correlates with times when people’s circadian rhythm dips. Your circadian rhythm acts like an internal clock and helps your body regulate sleep. Most people experience a dip in their circadian rhythm at night between midnight and 6 a.m. when people are usually asleep. Most people also experience a dip in their circadian rhythm in the late afternoon. As you plan your road trip, try to avoid driving during these times when your risk of falling asleep might be greatest.
Try to schedule breaks into your road trip. Getting out of your vehicle and moving around can help disrupt the monotony of driving. Taking a break from driving can also give you an opportunity to consume some caffeine or take a short nap, which can both provide a temporary energy boost.
Travel with others
Drowsy driving collisions often occur when someone is driving alone. Inviting others to join you on your trip can be beneficial in several ways. Passengers may be able to help navigate, manage music and split some of the costs associated with your travels. Passengers can also help you avoid drowsy driving by keeping you awake, pointing out when you might be getting too tired to drive and taking a turn driving so one driver never becomes too fatigued.
Road trips can offer entertainment and adventure. However, drowsy driving could endanger everyone in your vehicle and on the road. To keep your road trip from becoming dangerous, consider the steps you can take to help ensure you stay awake and alert as you drive.