Most drivers have been in a situation in which they were too fatigued to drive safely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there are at least 100,000 accidents every year caused by drowsy driving.
These are only those accidents that were reported to police, and in which drowsy driving was confirmed to be a factor. The actual number of accidents caused by drowsy motorists is likely to be much higher, simply because many motorists are unlikely to admit at the scene of an accident that they dozed off at the wheel, or were fatigued. Drowsy driving causes more than 6,000 accident fatalities every year.
Automakers are focusing on bringing attention to the problem, and in fact, the 2015 Nisan Murano will roll out with a brand-new drowsy driving detection system. The system will analyze the driver’s steering patterns to detect drowsiness. When the system detects signs of drowsiness, it will issue an audible and visual alert that will flash on the car’s instrument panel.
This sounds like an exciting, promising technology, but until such time that such technology is available on all automobiles, take steps to reduce your risks of drowsy driving. Look out for these signs of drowsiness, and stop somewhere safe for some sleep before you resume driving.
- Frequent yawning
- Wandering thoughts
- Inability to focus on the road ahead
- Heaviness in the head
- Frequent dozing off
- Inability to recall or remember the last few minutes of driving
- Frequently veering off your lane
- Missing traffic signs or signals
- Having difficulty keeping your eyes open
If you notice any of these signs, take a break as quickly as possible. Pull over somewhere safe and take a nap. Quick fixes like caffeine can help avoid sleeplessness for some time, but the best antidote to drowsiness is sleep.