Eight drowsy driving warning signs to watch for:
- Finding it hard to focus on the road, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Starting to daydream, wandering eyes and having disconnected thoughts
- Having trouble remembering the last few miles driven
- Missing an exit or ignoring traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Finding it hard to keep your head up or nodding off
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable or becoming aggravated with common annoyances such as sitting in traffic.
Before getting into the car with someone or driving yourself, ask the following:
- Are you sleep-deprived or fatigued? Are you suffering regularly from sleep problems? Less than 6 hours of sleep triples your risk of falling asleep while driving, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Are you planning to drive long distances without proper rest breaks?
- Will you be driving through the night, mid-afternoon or when you would normally be asleep?
- Are you taking medications that can make you sleepy such as antidepressants, cold tablets or antihistamines?
- Have you been working over 60 hours a week? A tightly packed work schedule increases your risk of drowsy driving by 40%, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Have you been working more than one job and your main job involves shift work?
- Did you drink alcohol? Even a small amount of alcohol can have an impact on your body.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, specific at-risk groups for driving sleep-deprived include:
- Young drivers — especially males under 25 years old.
- Shift workers and people with long work hours — working the night shift can increase your risk of drowsy driving by nearly six times. Rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful.
- Commercial drivers — especially long-haul drivers. At least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue and sleep-deprived driving.
- People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders — People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have up to seven times the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Business travelers — who spend long hours driving or may be jet-lagged from a previous trip.
Helpful tips for driving, include:
- Planning your trip ahead of time.
- If it is a long-distance trip, ask a friend to join you so they can help drive and monitor for signs of drowsy driving.
- If you feel tired, drowsy or notice any of the signs above, pull over and get some rest and only continue driving when alert.