Skip to Content
Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law
Free Consultations 505-219-2176

Tips for Avoid Drowsy Driving


Drowsy Driving: Definition & Statistics

Drowsy driving is a serious and potentially fatal phenomenon where an individual operates a vehicle while being fatigued or excessively tired. Drowsy driving significantly impairs reaction times, decision-making abilities, and attention to the road, increasing the risk of accidents. This condition can be due to:

  • lack of adequate sleep,
  • long working hours,
  • driving for extended periods without breaks, or
  • certain medications that induce sleepiness.

Drowsy driving is an underestimated yet critical issue that contributes significantly to road accidents. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving was responsible for 684 fatalities in 2021 alone. According to their data, drowsy driving accidents occur most commonly:

  • in rural areas or on rural highways,
  • between midnight and six a.m. or in the late afternoon, and
  • with only a single driver (who has no passengers) that runs off the road at high speeds.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving

Given the seriousness of this issue, it's imperative to take steps to prevent drowsy driving. Here are some actionable tips:

  • Prioritize quality sleep. Adults need seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night, and failing to get sufficient rest significantly increases the risk of drowsy driving. Establish a regular sleep schedule and create a conducive sleep environment to ensure you get enough rest.
  • Schedule regular breaks. If you're embarking on a long drive, plan to take a break every two hours or every 100 miles. These breaks will give you a chance to stretch, refresh, and assess your alertness.
  • Recognize the warning signs. Key signs of fatigue include frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and trouble focusing. If you notice these symptoms, it's time to pull over and rest.
  • Use a buddy system. When possible, share the driving responsibilities with another person. This can allow each driver to rest and stay alert when it's their turn to drive.

Signs You Are Too Drowsy to Drive

You should also be aware of the signs that you are too drowsy to drive, which include:

  • Daydreaming or disconnected thoughts. If your thoughts are wandering away from the task of driving, it's a sign that you're not fully alert.
  • Difficulty focusing. If you're having trouble keeping your eyes on the road or focusing on the traffic, it's a sign that you're probably too tired to drive.
  • Drifting from your lane. If you find your vehicle unintentionally veering off into other lanes, it's a strong indication of drowsiness.
  • Feeling restless or irritable. Mood changes can also be a sign of fatigue and sleep deprivation.
  • Feeling the need to stretch often. A constant desire to stretch may indicate your body's attempt to fight off exhaustion.
  • Frequent yawning or blinking. These are often involuntary responses to being tired.
  • Frequent, slow blinking. This is another common symptom of drowsiness.
  • Missing traffic signs or exits (especially those that are familiar to you). If you're missing traffic signals or your exit, it's a sign that your attention is waning due to fatigue.
  • Rubbing your eyes or face frequently. This often indicates an effort to shake off sleepiness.
  • Trouble keeping your head up. If you're struggling to keep your head upright and your eyes open, you're likely too tired to drive.

Should You Avoid Certain Foods to Avoid Drowsy Driving?

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that links the food we consume to our sleep patterns and overall energy levels. A review published in Nutrition Research Reviews highlighted that carbohydrate-rich meals tend to induce greater drowsiness compared to protein-rich meals.

Certain foods are known to affect our energy levels due to their nutritional properties. For instance, foods high in tryptophan (an amino acid that the body converts into serotonin), like turkey, milk, and cheese, can make us feel sleepy.

Similarly, foods high in sugar can cause a rapid spike and subsequent crash in blood sugar levels, leading to feelings of fatigue. On the other hand, foods rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy, helping us stay alert for longer periods.

Given this knowledge, here are some practical tips to help avoid drowsiness while driving:

  • Opt for protein and fiber-rich foods. Consuming meals rich in protein and fiber before a drive can provide sustained energy and help prevent drowsiness.
  • Limit high-sugar foods. Avoid foods and drinks high in sugar before and during your drive to prevent a sugar crash that could lead to fatigue.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue. Ensure you drink enough water, especially on long drives.

Drowsy Driving & the Holidays

The holiday season, while a time of joy and celebration, can unfortunately also lead to an increase in drowsy driving-related motor vehicle accidents. There are several reasons for this uptick during the festive period:

  1. The holidays typically involve longer travel times as people visit family and friends or go on vacation. These extended journeys, especially when driven at night, can result in fatigue, making drivers less alert and more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
  2. The holiday season often involves late-night parties and gatherings, which can disrupt regular sleep patterns. Coupled with the consumption of alcohol, which is common during festivities but can induce drowsiness, individuals may get behind the wheel when they're not in the best condition to drive safely.
  3. The general stress and busyness of the season, from shopping to cooking to attending events, can lead to inadequate rest and sleep deprivation. This lack of sleep can contribute to drowsiness during daytime driving.

Given these factors, it's crucial to be particularly vigilant about drowsy driving during the holiday season. Not only should you take steps to avoid being a drowsy driver, but also drive defensively.

Injured by a Drowsy Driver? Contact Us!

Michael Doyle, Attorney at Law represents those injured in negligence-related car accidents, trucking accidents, and motorcycle accidents. We understand the impact substantial medical bills, losses of income, and other financial-related issues caused by motor vehicle accidents can have on you. Because of this understanding, we pride ourselves on offering personalized and aggressive counsel to clients.

Trust us to be your advocates. Call (505) 219-2176 to schedule an initial consultation with our firm.