Sleepy drivers are a major cause of car accidents, killing roughly 1500 Americans a year. Sleepy drivers are liable to fall asleep behind the wheel, make mistakes, or react too slowly to prevent a car accident. Many drivers, unfortunately, assume that if they have had a full night of sleep, they are not dangerous behind the wheel. This is not true. Many factors can create a sleepy driver and can cause a car accident:
1) Medications. Some medications make you groggy or drowsy. Each time you are given new medication, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the ways the medication may affect your driving skills. Check your over the counter medication, too. If a medication makes you drowsy, do not drive while taking it.
2) Medical conditions. Some medical conditions can make you drowsy or can slow your response times. For example, some brain injuries can cause you to drowse off easily and some neurological conditions can cause you to be groggier than usual. If you have been diagnosed with a new condition, ask your doctor how it will affect your daily tasks, including driving.
3) Poor sleep. Even if you have a full eight hours of sleep, you may not be adequately rested to drive. If you have woken up frequently, had terrible dreams, or slept in a new environment, you may be tired all day. If you are drowsy or tired, you should not drive.
4) Too little sleep. If you have slept less than your usual amount, you may feel fine but your body may still compensate by allowing you to fall into micro sleeps – small bursts of sleep or sleepiness that last only seconds. These few micro seconds may be enough to cause a serious accident.
5) Tiredness. Some days we all wake up feeling tired for no reason. You may be getting a cold, you may have gotten a poor sleep. There may be no reason for your tiredness, but your fatigue could still cause an accident.
6) Alcohol. Alcohol has a soporific effect on most people. In fact, you are more likely to feel drowsy before you feel inebriated. Many drunk driving accidents are caused by inebriated drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel. Don’t become one of them.
7) Highway hypnosis. If you have been driving on the highway for some time, you may start to feel drowsy simply from the monotony of driving. Stop at a rest stop, take a different route or do something to wake yourself.
8) Too much driving. Even if you are awake and refreshed when you start driving, if you drive long enough you will eventually get tired. If this happens, do not continue driving. Find a motel and sleep before continuing.