Imagine you just finished a 12-hour overnight shift. It’s finally time to make your way home. As you drive, you only have one thing on your mind – sleep. The sun isn’t up yet, and your eyelids feel heavy.
The next thing you know, you’re face to face with another vehicle.
Every year, thousands of Americans get into car accidents as a result of driving while tired. While anyone is capable of drowsy driving, certain people are more susceptible to it:
- Commercial drivers: This includes people who operate vehicles such as tow trucks, buses and tractor trailers. More than 15 percent of heavy truck crashes involve fatigue.
- Shift workers: Overnight shift workers are at high risk. If you work more than 60 hours per week, your chances of drowsy driving increase by 40 percent.
- Young people: Teenagers are more likely to drive while fatigued, as well as males under 26 years old.
- Business travelers: If you have jet lag or spent many hours traveling, you may be more prone to drowsy driving.
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders: Untreated sleep apnea greatly heightens your chances of falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Drivers who use medications that cause sleepiness: Medications could include antidepressants, cold tablets or antihistamines.
While you may not be able to steer clear of every drowsy-driving situation, there are some precautions you can take to avoid it:
- Try to get at least six hours of sleep before driving
- Take rest breaks when traveling long distances
- Don’t take sedating medications before driving
- Avoid drinking even small amounts of alcohol before driving
- Avoid driving alone down long, dark or boring roads
While anyone could fall asleep at the wheel, you should exercise extra precaution if you fall into one of the high-risk categories. At the end of the day, it could help mitigate the chances of you getting in a car accident.