You’re not alone if you’ve ever gotten behind the wheel while feeling drowsy, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Of the 60 percent of adults in the US who say they’ve done it, around one third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Driving while exhausted can have serious consequences, including injury to yourself and to others.
Sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol. Both drowsy driving and drunk driving make it hard to pay attention to the road and reduce your ability to make quick decisions. A drunk driver often drives slowly while trying to react, while a drowsy driver can nod off while still going fast, not braking or swerving if something happens in front of them.
Pull over, take a nap, or buy a cup of caffeinated coffee or a soft drink if you are driving while tired and you experience:
- Heavy eyelids
- Inability to remember the last stretch of road you just drove
- Constant yawning
- Bobbing your head
- Drifting from your lane
If you have another driver with you, switch drivers. Driving during your most alert period of the day is a good idea. These simple precautions will reduce risks to yourself and others.