Impaired and distracted driving are certainly dangerous and no one should diminish just how unsafe those practices are. However, drowsy driving is often pushed to the side and sometimes forgotten.
According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administration, drowsiness is a factor in 21% of car accidents in Canada. A statistic of over 1 in 5 puts it right up there with the other issues drivers face.
The thing is, it’s impossible to prove someone is sleep deprived so making “driving while drowsy” against the law just isn’t feasible. That just means it’s on us, and we have to make sure we’re being as safe as possible. Besides, the dangers should be enough of a deterrent.
Why Drowsy Driving Is Dangerous
You obviously understand that sluggishness isn’t a good thing when you’re behind the wheel of a car (let alone a several thousand-pound truck), but what exactly happens when you’re drowsy?
Your Reaction Time Suffers
A fully-rested person takes about two-tenths of a second to make a physical reaction. As exhaustion increases, so does the amount of time it takes for your brain and body to react.
Logic Goes Out The Window
Reasoning and attention go downhill the more tired you are. This means less focus, tougher decision-making, and more confusion. Combine this with the slower reaction time and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Blurry vision and sensitivity to light are not the only things to worry about when sleep deprived (though, at night you can easily see why this is an even bigger problem). Depth perception actually takes a hit too, so it’s harder to tell how far away a car, turn, sign, or anything else is.
Check Out Another Blog: 5 Common Trucking Mistakes To Avoid
The Early Signs Of Drowsy Driving
Being on top of identifying the early sign of being drowsy being the wheel is the first step. If you identify any of these, pull over and rest. It’s safer for you and everyone else on the road. We always stress this: a package is never worth putting yourself in danger.
- Frequent blinking.
- Inability to remember the last stretch of road.
- Missing an exit or turn.
- Drifting into another lane.
- Hitting rumble strips on the side of the road.
How To Avoid Drowsy Driving
If you’re starting to feel any of the above warning signs, it might be time to:
- Take a break! Hit the next gas station or truck stop to stretch your legs, grab a coffee, or if you’re really exhausted, get some sleep!
- Keep cool! Avoid turning your truck into a warm cozy blanket if you’re feeling tired. Keep it a bit cooler than you might otherwise.
- Stay active! While this does include stretching your legs as mentioned above, it also means keeping your eyes scanning and your arms moving (by checking mirrors and other things).
The tips above can help you get through a small hint of drowsiness on the final leg of a trip, but it’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep. The best (and safest) thing you can do is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and you stop and rest when you need to!