AAA recently released findings that drowsy driving occurs in 10% of all crashes. This may not be surprising today. Can you think of an instance where you felt groggy, or sleepy while driving, maybe you even accidentally shut your eyes for a quick second? If you answered no, then either you are lying, or you need to tell the rest of us your secrets.
Fortunately, technology is starting to come out that intuits driver fatigue and tells you that you need to take a driving break. These systems are called “Attention Alert Systems” and monitor various things such as steering inputs. If those inputs indicate that you may be drowsy, notices might flash on your dashboard, and your car might make audible chime reminders that you should pull over, or get some coffee.
Some technologies claim to deter fatigue by making driving easier, such as adaptive cruise control that modifies your speed to stay a certain distance behind the car in front of you without ever touching the accelerator or brakes. There is also lane-keeping steering that uses cameras to see lane markings and moves the wheel slightly to keep the car between them. They also alert you if you are straying across these lines. We say “claim” because of the fact that these tools “ease” driving, can actually have the opposite effect for some and make them even more drowsy.
So what are some tips to avoid driving drowsy in the first place?
- Don’t drive after eating heavy food
- Don’t take medications right before driving
- Take breaks when you are taking longer trips
- Pre-empt your tiredness buy drinking some caffeine before getting behind the wheel.
- Don’t use your phone or laptop in bed, as those screens are proven to have a negative effect on sleeping habits
Drowsy driving is 100% preventable, meaning that it is entirely possible for that 10% to go down to 0%. Help make that happen, and don’t drive drowsy.