Drowsy Driving: Knowing When to Pull Over
Drowsy driving is one of the gravest risks to traffic safety in Indiana and contributes to around 100,000 crashes each year. A tired driver is not only at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel, but they will have much slower reflexes and are prone to making poor judgments. For this reason, drivers should make sure they are well rested before they head out for a long trip.
If you are feeling tired, you might try to counteract your fatigue by drinking coffee or taking stimulants, but these can only mask some of the symptoms. They do nothing to fix the underlying fatigue. As a result, you might not fall asleep, but you could still make critical errors that lead to injuries.
Pull Over if Your Eyelids are Heavy
Eyelids that start to droop as if they are anchored with sand are a classic signal that you are too tired and are on the verge of falling asleep. Other signs include your head drooping and constant yawning. It is normal to yawn once or twice, even in the middle of the day, but deep, uncontrollable yawns are different.
If you notice you are falling asleep, pull over at the next rest stop or into the parking lot of a nearby business. Ideally, you would get a hotel room but none might be nearby. Fortunately, you don’t need a long nap to feel recharged.
Pull Over if You Can’t Remember the Last Few Miles
Driving on a highway is very monotonous. Up ahead is nothing but a straight highway that stretches for hundreds of miles. When someone is tired, they quickly forget recent details. If you have no idea what happened only a few miles ago or what song was just playing on the radio, then chances are you are much too tired and need to pull over to the side of the road.
Get Off the Road if Your Vehicle is Drifting
Drifting is a definite sign you are falling asleep and probably are not even aware of it. This is a definite warning sign that you need to pull over to the side of the road and take a nap.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving
Everyone gets tired, even after a long day at work. The key to driving safely is to avoid the type of deep fatigue that will cause you to fall asleep. Here are some tips:
- Try to schedule long trips at a different time of day. During the holidays, many people travel long distances and try to head back home after a full day of eating and celebrating with families. If possible, check to see if you can spend somewhere overnight before taking your long trek home.
- Don’t drink alcohol, which will only contribute to your fatigue. Make sure one driver remains sober.
- Sleep at a regular time each day for a sufficient amount of time. You can’t “bank” hours of sleep on the weekend and then draw on the reserves during the week. Sleep doesn’t work that way. You need a similar amount of sleep every day to be at your best.
- Be careful of over reliance on stimulants. A coffee can provide a quick pick-me-up at the end of a long shift. But you can’t really rely on caffeine to keep you alert for lengthy periods of time. Even worse, you might experience a caffeine crash and feel more tired than before.
- Don’t try to stay awake by rolling down the window to let in cold air or cranking up the radio. These tricks can keep you awake for a couple minutes while you look for a place to pull over but that’s about it.
If, despite your best efforts, you start to feel drowsy, you should pull over and sleep. Often a 20-40 minute nap will be enough to get you refreshed, then you can continue with your trip.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Fort Wayne
Despite the public’s best efforts, drowsy driving will continue to occur. If you have been hit by a drowsy driver, you will probably need compensation to cover different surprise expenses, such as medical bills and damage to your vehicle.
Our Fort Wayne car accident lawyers at the Delventhal Law Office will meet with you to go over your case to determine whether you have a valid legal claim. The sooner we hear from you, the faster we can begin to build a case for your compensation and pave the road to your recovery.
Please call (260) 484-6655 to schedule a free initial consultation.