Drunk driving continues to be a major concern among road safety advocates, but fatigue is just as big a cause of accidents on the road. Driving sleepy or tired has similar effects as driving under the influence of alcohol. Slower reaction times and impaired judgement are a direct effect of fatigue and can have disastrous consequences especially when you’re behind the wheel.
When driving sleepy or tired, it’s always better to pull over and sleep it off rather than muscle it out on the road. This is particularly true when driving long distances where motorists fall for what they call “highway hypnosis”. In cases like these, it’s better and safer to pull over than to keep driving.
But I’ve Only Got a Few Miles Left!
A lot of drivers justify fatigued driving by telling themselves that it’s simply a nearby drive. This sort of mindset is not only risky, but it’s one of the leading reasons behind fatigue-related accidents. Even when you think you have only a few miles left, a split second lapse in concentration can have you veering off the road, or worse, into another car. Every second you spend on the road as a tired or sleepy driver, is another second that you are a hazard to yourself and to other motorists as well.
By pulling over you are able to:
• Avoid hazardous and sometimes life threatening accidents on the road.
• Rest / sleep off your fatigue until you are able to drive properly.
• Potentially save your life and the lives of others.
What Do I Do If I Can’t Pull Over?
Unfortunately, you may not have the opportunity to pull over anytime you’d like. In this case, it’s important to take the first, safe chance to pull over, while at the same time, keep yourself awake. Here are some ways you can keep yourself from falling asleep behind the wheel.
Have a Snack and Keep Your Energy Up – If you have something you can snack on in your car, keep your taste buds per-occupied. Be sure to eat slowly so you can keep yourself busy for a longer period of time. But also be safe while eating. Only take snacks that allow you to still have a hand on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
Pull Down Your Car Windows
If the weather is safe enough to do so, try pulling your car windows down so that the wind can keep you alert. The noise and wind brushing against your face can go a long way to keeping you up.
Set Your Seat Upright
By simply putting your seat in a position that you are unused to can help keep you awake. By making yourself intentionally uncomfortable, you will be less tempted to drift off while driving.
Pull Over as Soon As You’re Able To
Once you’ve gotten your eye back on the road, there will be the inevitable temptation to keep driving. However, you need to be able to pull over as soon as possible. Drowsiness can set right back in when you least expect it, and this can spell disaster not only for yourself but for others. Remember, don’t drive fatigued. It’s better to pull over, than to get into an accident you could have easily avoided.