Constant yawning, head nodding, heavy eyelids, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven, missing road signs or exits, unplanned lane changes, driving off the road or hitting rumble strips are all signs of drowsy driving. Driving while you are sleepy increases your crash risk as you struggle to process complex information coming from different places at once. You may make careless driving decisions, have trouble paying attention or actually fall asleep while driving.
To avoid drowsy driving:
- Get plenty of quality sleep before a trip.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and heavy foods.
- Beware of medications that can impair your driving ability.
- Limit long distance driving. Stop at least every two hours for rest.
- Stop at a safe place and take a nap. As little as 10 to 20 minutes of sleep can make a big difference.
- If possible, drive with a companion and switch drivers when necessary. Always let a well-rested person drive.
- Avoid driving from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Rolling down a window, chewing gum, turning up the radio, or consuming caffeine, energy drinks or other stimulants do not prevent drowsy driving and are not reliable methods for staying awake. Drowsy driving is a type of impaired driving and puts the driver and everyone else on the roadway at risk for harm. If you observe a drowsy driver, find a safe place to stop or ask a passenger to call law enforcement. Be able to describe the location, vehicle and actions you observed.