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Safe Driving-AAA Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep At the Wheel

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On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 11:48AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Safe Driving-AAA Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep At the Wheel

Believe it or not, motorists who get behind the wheel of an automobile when they are drowsy have impairments in judgment similar to those motorists driving under the influence of alcohol experience. Simply put; a tired driver is a danger to himself and others.

Surprisingly, a recent study showed that the majority of crashes and near-crashes actually occur during daytime hours, when roads are more crowded, not at night as many people may think. But sleep-related accidents at night tend to be more serious because they are more likely to occur on high-speed highways and rural roads, when the driver is traveling at dangerously higher speeds and, in most cases, driving alone.

The 18-20 year old age group in one study was involved in five times more fatigue-related accidents and near-accidents than any other group, most likely due to inexperience in driving combined with teenagers notorious habits of irregular sleep patterns.

Work also played a role in the outcome of the study; interviews with drivers after crashes indicated that drowsy drivers were nearly twice as likely to work at more than one job and their primary job was much more likely to involve working the night shift.

The incidence of fatigue-related accidents has been steadily increasing with more and more cars on the road and with the rise in the number of motorists commuting further than ever today. Driving while drowsy is very dangerous, resulting in thousands of fatal accidents yearly.

According to the AAA Foundation, below are the top 10 things to do to avoid falling asleep at the wheel:

When you feel drowsy, stop driving and drink a caffeinated beverage.
It takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream in order to take affect, so utilize that time to take a nap.

Get at least six hours of sleep the night before taking a long trip—more is better.

Avoid working all day and then driving all night.

Plan to drive during hours you are normally awake; stop and sleep overnight in a motel rather than driving straight through the night on long trips.

Take a mid-afternoon break for a short nap, and find a place to sleep between midnight and dawn. If you can't nap, at least stop your car and rest for awhile.

Avoid foods high in carbohydrates that can cause fatigue in favor of protein-laden foods when driving.

Avoid allergy and cold or flu medications, such as Benadryl, which can cause severe drowsiness. Avoid taking prescribed sleep aids until you are completely finished driving for the day.

On long trips, have a passenger in the front seat who can talk to you and help keep you awake.

Take a break every two hours or every 100-120 miles, even if you don't need a pit stop or gas. Get out of the car and do some stretching exercises to relieve stress; set a limit of 300-400 miles of maximum driving per day.


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