At some point, most people become tired while driving. Some drivers will even continue driving with heavy eyelids, despite the high risk of an accident. Nearly 800 people across the U.S. are killed in drowsy driving crashes each year.
According to a study conducted in 2000, driving after being awake for 17-19 consecutive hours is worse than driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent, which is considered buzzed driving.
That's why it's important that Florida residents are made aware of the risks and take appropriate actions to prevent it.
Florida will observe Drowsy Driving Prevention Week from September 1-8, 2020. Officials and safety advocates from the Florida Department of Transportation will discuss the causes, risk factors, and dangers of drowsy driving. National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week will be observed from November 1-8, 2020.
BMW Podcast offers prevention tips
Changing Lanes is a BMW podcast that touches upon important transportation topics. The podcast addresses the dangers of microsleep, which occurs when drivers doze off for a few seconds. For example, when drivers doze off for five seconds at a speed of 55 mph, they travel 135 yards while asleep at the wheel.
This often occurs when drivers embark on long trips. In order to prevent microsleep while on long trips, the podcast offers some tips.
Precautions to take on long trips
- Recognize the warning signs: The warning signs include frequent yawning or blinking, difficulty staying in a lane, loss of memory, poor concentration, irritability, trouble keeping your head up and trouble keeping your eyes open.
- Get enough sleep: It's recommended that drivers get 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Drivers who don't get enough sleep should avoid driving on long trips.
- Take 20 minute power naps: Drivers should take 20 minute power naps every 4 hours. It's important not to go over 20 minutes, since that can induce more drowsiness. Be sure to pull over in a parking lot or rest stop and set an alarm for 20 minutes.
- Avoid driving during risky times: Drivers are at a greater risk of falling asleep between 2-5 a.m. and between 1-3 p.m. than any other time.
- Take frequent breaks: It can be exhausting to sit in a car for several hours. That's why it's important to take frequent breaks by getting out of the car and taking short walks. This can increase oxygen to the brain and improve concentration.
- Don't eat too much: It's never a good idea to drive after having a large meal. This can induce drowsiness.
- Drink plenty of water: In addition to getting sleep, staying hydrated is key to staying energized. Drivers should drink plenty of water before long trips and avoid alcohol, coffee or anything else that can cause dehydration.
- Have safe distractions: Distracted driving is a dangerous habit, but having the right mental distractions can keep drivers from dozing off. This can include having a conversation with a passenger or listening to music.
- Be careful of sedatives: Drivers who take prescription sedatives or some over-the-counter drugs should avoid driving afterwards. These medications can create a significant drowsy driving risk.
Short term drowsy driving prevention tips
For drivers who only need to stay awake a little longer to get to the nearest rest stop or destination, consider these tips:
- Consume sugar: Sugar can temporarily boost energy, but the effect doesn't last long. Blood sugar can drop quickly and tiredness can return.
- Consume caffeine and energy drinks: Coffee, tea or energy drinks can temporarily boost alertness. The effect of caffeine also doesn't last long.
- Roll the window down: Rolling the window down can help give drivers a short term boost in oxygen, which can increase energy and alertness.
- Chew on gum: This temporarily increases circulation to the brain and reduces the likelihood of falling asleep.
- Listen to loud music: Loud music can be a short-term fix that can keep the brain engaged and temporarily prevent drivers from dozing off.
Contact our Florida law firm if you were hurt in a crash
If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash caused by drowsy driving, an experienced Florida car accident attorney at Farrow & Pulice can help you recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages and other losses.
We handle cases in the greater Sarasota area and throughout southwestern Florida. Contact us online and schedule your free case evaluation.