Drowsy driving can lead to accidents

For most people, drowsiness sounds like a minor annoyance at worst, not like a serious danger. However, when drowsiness strikes while you are on the road, the consequences can be severe.

Many people like to think they can tell if they are getting dangerously sleepy. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as many tend to overestimate their alertness level and ability to react quickly. Watching out for signs of sleepiness and taking precautions against it can help you stay safe on your travels.

Most need eight hours of sleep to drive safely

If you got fewer than the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep, this deficit will likely affect your driving. While some few people may genuinely function well on less sleep, most need a higher minimum amount to remain in good physical and mental form.

Small sleep deficits can cause big problems

Missing even an hour or two of sleep can lead to slowed reflexes, increased distraction and difficulty thinking clearly. Any of these problems can dramatically increase the chances of an accident, especially if you encounter one of the many potential hazards of the road: bad weather, uneven road surfaces and careless or drunk drivers.

A greater level of sleep deprivation can result in serious symptoms such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears and even completely falling asleep while driving. Even a low level of fatigue may increase due to consumption of alcohol or certain medications.

Medical conditions can lead to lack of rest

Some people get their eight hours of sleep yet wake up feeling unrested. If this is you, consider seeing a doctor, as you may be suffering from a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting the rest you need. Certain occupations may put you at greater risk of drowsiness, including shift work and commercial driving.

Plan ahead to avoid drowsy driving

Planning ahead by getting enough sleep is often the best way to ensure drowsiness does not interfere with your driving. If you plan to embark on a road trip, regularly having another person switch driving duties with you can allow you to get proper rest.

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