Did you know that going too long without restful sleep can impair you’re driving to the same level as driving after consuming too much alcohol? Studies have shown that people awake for 18 hours have the same level of impairment behind the wheel as someone with a blood alcohol content of .05%. People awake for 24 hours experience impairment equal to a blood alcohol content of .10%, which is HIGHER than the legal limit of .08% in all states.
Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving while sleepy or fatigued. Unfortunately, drowsy driving is far too prevalent, especially in the transportation industry. Cognitive impairment poses a risk to accumulating millions of safe miles, but it also puts your health and the safety of others at serious risk.
Estimates suggest that the cognitive impairment of drowsy driving contributes to as many as 1.2 million collisions each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes yearly may be caused by drowsy driving.
What are some of the warning signs of drowsy driving?
- Yawning, blinking frequently, and fighting heavy eyes.
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles you have driven.
- Missing a turn, exit, or stop.
- Drifting from your lane.
- Hitting rumble strips.
Although you may have a lane departure system on your truck to notify you that you are drifting, that
notification doesn’t address WHY you are out of your lane.
It is important to act when ANY of these warning signs of drowsy driving occur while you are behind the wheel. Pull over to a safe place and take a 15–20-minute nap, then rehydrate, stretch and move for a few minutes to get the oxygen circulating throughout the body to refresh yourself before heading on down the road.
Your body works at its peak when you have adequate restful sleep. Including wellness-focused habits WITH restful sleep, and you limit fatigue and sleepiness that leads to drowsy driving.
Here are five wellness practices that will enhance your cognitive ability and limit drowsiness behind the wheel.
- Get seven or more hours of sleep every day that doesn’t include waking up frequently.
- Establish and follow good sleep hygiene practices to help you feel refreshed.
- Consume foods that help you stay alert while driving.
- Make sure you are adequately hydrated to improve alertness.
- Take medications as prescribed by your doctor when managing medical conditions. Check the label on all your medications and talk with your doctor or pharmacist about other options if the medicine causes drowsiness.
Since a rested driver is a safer driver, begin making small lifestyle changes today to help you avoid drowsy driving so you can rack up millions of safe miles. If you need ideas for small steps of change, talk with one of the Rolling Strong coaches. We are here to help.
So, there you have it, five wellness practices that will limit drowsy driving. Until next time, Roll Strong and Be Well
By: Tanya Jolliffe RDN, LD, CIMHP, Rolling Strong Wellness Coach Resources
- CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- TSM Traffic Safety Marketing
- Asleep at the Wheel – A National Compendium of Efforts to Eliminate Drowsy Driving
- National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine