Asleep at the Wheel

I was coming home from work the other day & stopped at a red light. I noticed the car beside me as the driver had his head out the window & was rubbing his eyes. He layed his head down on his arm, which was resting on the open window, & quickly fell asleep. He didn’t notice that the light turned green. The driver behind him hit his car horn. The sleepy driver woke up startled and proceeded through the intersection.

Falling asleep at the wheel is all too common. Twice I witnessed cars going into the ditch because of drivers falling asleep. Luckily, their cars just missed mine & I avoided head-on collisions. The drivers were also lucky as they did not get seriously hurt. 

Have you ever driven while sleepy? Most of us have. Below I have listed a few tips to stay alert while driving:

1            Plan ahead & get enough sleep before doing a long road trip. If you are sleepy while driving, pull over at a rest stop, parking lot or approach & have a quick nap (stopping on the shoulder of the road just isn’t as safe). A quick nap is the best way to prevent falling asleep at the wheel.

2            When blood sugars get low we get sleepy. Ensure you are properly nourished & stay hydrated. Avoid sugary & fatty snacks that will cause your energy level to crash. Eat crunchy & sour foods or ice cubes to wake up your tastebuds & you.

3            If you drive for a living, plan to incorporate physical activity into your day. A fitness break may be just what you need to get rid of the fog in your brain. A half hour brisk walk or run will clear your head and will re-energize you.

4            Coffee/caffeine may help to keep you awake short-term. If anything the resulting bathroom breaks will help.

5            Keeping your window open or turning your air conditioning on may also help. Be careful not to get a chill. If you get sick, you will have less energy.

6            Listen to upbeat music (not slow relaxing music). Don’t turn it too loud as it is important to be able to hear sirens etc.

7            Bring a friend along for the drive to keep conversation going. You can take turns driving and napping when necessary.

8            Driving impaired is asking for trouble. Avoid driving when taking certain medications (know the side effects of your medication). Avoid drinking & driving. Avoid driving when tired & hung-over. Alcohol & driving just don’t mix.

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, falling asleep at the wheel causes: approximately 100,000 motor vehicle collisions, over 1,500 deaths, over 70,000 injuries and significant amounts of property damage each year.

Remember, if you fall asleep at the wheel, you may injure or kill innocent people/families &/or yourself. It just isn’t worth it. Stay alert & stay awake at the wheel.

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