If you’re planning a road trip this summer (or anytime of the year), avoid driving drowsy to keep yourself and you passengers safe. According to the CDC at least 1 in 25 adult drivers have admitted to nodding off at the wheel in the last month. Since this number is just based on what some were willing to admit, it is very likely the number is higher. Being in South Texas means many of us will need to drive a minimum of 3-5 hours just to get to outlying areas of the state. Often times the desire to arrive at a destination quickly overrides our willingness to stop at a rest area.
Since many of us work long hours it is no surprise that at least 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep, according to a relatively new study released by the CDC Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This study documents estimates of self-reported healthy sleep duration for all 50 states. Additionally the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says drowsy driving is responsible for roughly 83k crashes, 37k injury crashes and nearly 900 fatal crashes on average per year.
Staying awake for 24 hours straight has the same effect on the body as being drunk. This is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol of 0.10% – well above the legal limit. If you become sleep-deprived, your body can override your ability to stay awake. Episodes known as microsleep can last from a few seconds to two minutes and can happen without you even realizing it. The best thing is to be proactive about practicing good sleep habits.
Things to avoid before bed:
• Large meals or “heavy” foods
• Computer, TV Screens or other gadgets that distract from sleep
• Medication that might make you sleepy
Other good sleep habits:
• Setting a sleep schedule, waking and rising at consistent times
• Ensure you have ample time to rest (between 8-10 hours)
• Fit some exercise in to prevent exhaustion
• Have a quiet, comfortable place to sleep
Plan ahead with these ideas:
• Bring along a friend and take turns napping in passenger seat
• Set aside hotel funds for an impromptu stop to rest
• Keep an eye out for rest stops to stretch
It’s not alway easy to predict road conditions or why a road trip might need to be taken, but taking steps to avoid drowsy driving is worth it. A stay at a hotel is much cheaper than a hospital bill and we can all stay a bit safer for it.