If you’re doing a lot of driving on your summer vacation, be sure you're getting enough sleep to drive safely. Instead of driving 700 miles in one stretch, break it up into two days so you can get a good night’s sleep along the way. Otherwise, driving while drowsy could put your life and the lives of others in danger.
Here are steps to stay safe behind the wheel:
Get enough sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night to maintain proper alertness during the day.
Schedule breaks. Plan to stop about every 100 miles or two hours.
Travel with others. Ask a companion to share the driving and keep you alert.
Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness. Check prescription labels or ask a pharmacist.
Recognize warning signs of fatigue. Take a break if you are restless, irritable, hit rumble strips, tailgate, drift across lanes or make sudden steering corrections.
Stop driving. Find a safe place to rest or spend the night. It's better to be late but arrive alive!
When you don't get enough sleep, a “sleep debt” accumulates that must be repaid, oftentimes when you are behind the wheel of a car. Half of American drivers admit they have driven when drowsy and 20 percent have actually fallen asleep at the wheel.
Talk to your teens about the dangers of driving while fatigued. Sleep-related crashes are most common in young people, who tend to stay up late, sleep too little and drive at night. More than half of all traffic crashes caused by a driver who fell asleep involve drivers 25 years and younger.
Problems sleeping or daytime sleepiness can signal a sleep disorder or other medical condition that can be treated. Talk to your primary care provider if you regularly have trouble getting enough sleep.
Find out about treatments for sleep disorders from the experts at Goshen Sleep Disorders Center, (574) 537-8530.