The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for traffic. Whether you are gift shopping around town or driving out of state to visit relatives, you can encounter all kinds of negligent drivers. While most of us know about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving, the thought of falling asleep at the wheel may take a back seat.
However, the problem of drowsy driving is worse than you may think. In 2015, 824 people in the U.S. suffered fatal injuries in fatigue-related accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those who work late shifts, have an untreated sleep disorder or take medications that cause drowsiness are among the most likely to nod off behind the wheel. During the busy, stressful holiday season, you face an even higher risk of encountering a sleep-deprived or fatigued driver.
Protecting yourself behind the wheel
How can you avoid getting into a drowsy driving accident this season? The following tips may help:
- Make sure to get a full night’s sleep the night before a road trip.
- Be aware of the signs of drowsiness, such as hitting the rumble strip or being unable to keep your eyes open, and pull over to stretch your legs or take a nap.
- Bring someone to take turns driving with you.
- Address sedating medications or sleep problems with your doctor.
- Remember that you or another driver can nod off behind the wheel during a short drive, as well.
- Do not rely on caffeine, cold air or loud music as long-term solutions for drowsy driving.
About 72,000 collisions and 41,000 injuries every year are attributed to drowsy driving, but the numbers may be much higher than reported. You can better protect yourself and others by being aware of the risks. If a negligent driver injures you, you may want to seek legal recourse.