According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 900 fatalities (2.6 percent of all fatalities) in 2014 involved driver fatigue as a principal cause. The Massachusetts Special Commission on Drowsy Driving, using a different methodology, estimates that more than 8,000 die each year due to this dangerous behavior. People tend to fall asleep more on high-speed and long rural highways and interstates. Drivers should be aware of this ever-present risk. Thus, the following tips may help you stay awake behind the wheel.
- The obvious cause of fatigue is lack of sleep. You should begin a long trip early in the day, after 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
- If possible, avoid driving long distances alone. Passengers can take turns driving and keep the conversation flowing, which can help keep you awake.
- Abstain from drinking any alcohol before driving. Drinking compounds with sleepiness to increase the chances of a fatigue-related accident.
- Long drives at night are a recipe for driver fatigue. The glare of lights, both on the dashboard and on the road, increases the danger of highway hypnosis. This term refers to driving in a trance-like state while gazing at a fixed point, an unsafe situation.
- Adjust your vehicle's environment in order to stay alert. Avoid using cruise control for long stretches of time. This helps keep your body involved in the driving.
- Take frequent breaks. Schedule regular stops every 100 miles or every 2 hours, including stops at a rest area or gas station. Getting out of the car and walking a short distance can help fight fatigue.
- If anti-fatigue measures do not work, there is only one solution. Find a safe, guarded rest stop or motel and sleep.
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