Sleepiness can attribute to crashes, not matter what time of day it is. This weekend (11/6) in Colorado clocks will be set back an hour, below we will outline some factors that attribute to drowsy driving and tips on how to drive alert.
Crashes that occur due to drowsy driving happen most frequently between midnight (12 a.m.) and 6 a.m., or in the late afternoon. At these times of the day there is a dip in the circadian rhythm (the body's internal clock that regulates sleep) that people experience (NHTSA, "Drowsy Driving").
Here is how to avoid driving drowsy:
- Get adequate sleep on a daily basis. Experts urge people to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night;
- Teenagers have a biological need for sleep increases during this stage of development. Make sure teens delay driving until they are well-rested;
- Avoid drinking alcohol before driving. Alcohol is a depressant, which in turn increases drowsiness and impairment. It is also illegal to drive while impaired;
- Check the labels of your prescription medications and over-the-counter medications to see if they can cause drowsiness and impairment (read this article from the FDA for more information);
- Some medical conditions can cause excessive drowsiness. Check with a medical professional to make sure it is safe to continue driving;
- Avoid driving during peak sleepiness periods (12:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m and late afternoon).
If you start feeling sleepy while you are driving, pull over for a short nap (20-30 minutes), or until you are no longer drowsy, in a safe place like a lighted rest stop.
Feeling a little tired, but unsure if it is safe for you to get behind the wheel? Take this Drowsy Driving Quiz to help you determine if you are too drowsy to drive.
For more information read, "Your Guide to Health Sleep" by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011.