Sep 10 2023 |
How to Stay Alert and Avoid Drowsy Driving on Long Road Trips
Setting out on a long road trip can hold the promise of adventure and new experiences; however, the safety of you and others on the road should never be compromised. The longer the road ahead of you, the greater the risk of nodding off or losing focus while driving. Concerningly, roughly two-thirds of drivers have reported driving drowsy at some point. Drowsy driving can have catastrophic consequences for something so preventable.
This article will delve into the dangers of drowsy driving, provide some tips for avoiding drowsy driving both before and after you embark on your trip, and discuss the legal consequences of drowsy driving. If you have been involved in an accident with a drowsy driver, contacting a car accident lawyer can help you throughout the process of negotiating with insurance companies or filing a tort claim against the at-fault driver.
Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving is far from being a harmless concern, posing a serious threat to road safety. It is estimated that drowsy driving is involved in around 20% of all car accidents, highlighting just how common of an issue this is.
Of course, nodding off while driving is extremely dangerous, but falling asleep while driving is not the only risk when driving tired. Driving drowsy can impair your attention and reaction times, and impact your decision-making skills. Perhaps you have had the experience of forgetting sections of a drive or missing turn-offs because you were too tired to pay proper attention. Any impairment to your judgment or coordination can be enough to cause a mistake that leads to an accident.
How Lack of Sleep Can Affect Driving
The influence of sleep deprivation on driving performance is staggering. Studies have estimated that driving impairment after 20 hours of sleep is similar to a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, the legal limit in Ontario.
As exhaustion takes its toll, focus becomes compromised, reaction times slow down, and decision-making abilities dwindle. Without proper attention, drowsy drivers are at greater risk of drifting out of their lane, missing exits, reacting slowly to surprise hazards, accidentally speeding or dramatically varying their speed, and missing important road signs for the conditions ahead.
Tips to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Avoiding drowsy driving on long road trips begins well before you hit the road. Being proactive and planning a little before your journey can make a huge difference to keep you alert on your drive, and make the drive more enjoyable. Here are some essential tips for preventing drowsy driving before you leave for your trip:
- Get a full night’s sleep before you leave.
- Plan your route well, including regular stops along the way.
- Work rest stops into your expected time of arrival so you don’t feel like you need to rush through the drive to make it on time.
- Plan to drive with a companion when possible. Driving with other people not only gives you a chance to switch out and rest but will provide someone to keep you entertained and to help recognize the signs of drowsiness.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in energy-boosting foods in a day or two leading up to your drive to help you feel well-nourished for a long day on the road.
- Avoid any medications, food, or other substances that make you feel drowsy.
- If drowsy driving is a regular occurrence for you, or if you commonly experience sleep troubles, consult with your doctor to explore the causes.
Tips to Stay Alert on Long Road Trips
Say you’ve already left for your road trip, you are 8 hours into your drive and notice your attention starting to drift, your eyes feeling heavy, and your thoughts wandering, but you still have another 4 hours to your destination. What do you do? How can you stay alert? Here are some useful tips for staying alert on a long drive:
- Pull over and take a nap. Even if it might make you late for your plans, at least you will arrive safely.
- Take regular breaks as needed to stretch out and get your blood flowing. A little bit of exercise can do a lot to wake you up and keep you alert and motivated for the next stretch of your drive.
- Switch drivers if possible.
- Keep your vehicle cold. A warm cabin can lure you to sleep as you get comfortable.
- Entertain yourself by singing along or dancing to music. Just cranking music or a podcast is of little help, but being fully engaged can help bring your mind back to a state of alertness.
- Drink coffee or other forms of caffeine.
- Have a snack, preferably something that will be energy-boosting rather than energy-depleting. Regularly eating a light, healthy snack is the best way to go.
- Perhaps most importantly, listen to your body. If you feel yourself getting tired, losing focus, or starting to nod off, take this seriously, listen to your body, and do something about it. Please don’t just push through the drowsiness.
Legal Consequences of Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving extends beyond endangering personal safety—it carries legal implications. Drivers hold a fundamental duty of care towards other road users, and operating a vehicle while fatigued is a breach of that duty. If you cause an accident because you fell asleep at the wheel or were overly fatigued, this can be grounds for negligence in a court case. Not only can you cause a serious or fatal accident, but you could be held personally liable for the accident if the other party wants to pursue a claim against you.
On the other hand, if you were involved in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, you have some avenues for seeking compensation for your losses. A car accident lawyer can help you negotiate with insurance companies and guide you through the process of filing a tort claim against the responsible party.
If you require a car accident lawyer in Toronto or the surrounding area, you can trust the experience of the team at Zayouna Law Firm. Our lawyers are dedicated to advocating for the rights of our clients. We are here to help you build a strong case and provide compassionate representation throughout the legal process. If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident in Toronto, contact Zayouna Law Firm today to book your free consultation.