Most drivers are well aware of the effects alcohol and drugs have on driving however few are educated on how fatigue impairs driving. According to being awake for 18 hours is the equivalent of a blood alcohol content of .08%, or legally drunk. Neglecting your body of sleep puts you, your passengers, and everyone on the road at risk.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of drowsy drivers every year, resulting in more than 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. The main message these stats should give to drivers is to sleep an adequate amount every night. Despite this the National Sleep Foundation’s 2009 Sleep in America poll found 54% of adult drivers say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year.

If you are sleepy and find yourself needing to drive take a 15 – 20 minute nap. Taking a nap longer than 20 minutes and waking before you are completely rested will leave you groggy. There are a million different coffee and energy drinks you may consider to help keep yourself awake while driving as well. Please remember before consuming these drinks caffeine takes about half an hour to reach the blood stream and effect. Also depending on the amount of caffeine consumed it will often leave you feeling more fatigued after wearing off. The most efficient and safe way to avoid drowsy driving is by getting enough sleep every night to feel well rested and alert the next morning.

Here are a few ways to avoid drowsy driving:

  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. The CDC recommends a 7 – 9 hours of sleep for the average adult each night.
  • If you will be driving for an extended time period, make use of rest stops.
  • Again if you will be driving for an extended time period ask a friend to ride with you. Talking to someone will keep you awake and possibly share time behind the wheel.
  • Do not take sedative medications and others that will impair your driving.
  • Do not drive during the night or times you would usually be asleep.