It’s happens to many: behind the wheel at the end of a long day, fatigue starts to make your eyelids droop. Maybe you turn up the volume on the radio; or perhaps you give yourself a few taps on the cheek. In most cases, it’s in vain.
Many studies have demonstrated that people in a state of drowsiness lose focus, close their eyes for a few seconds at a time and drift away in thought as if they were dreaming. This altered state of consciousness impairs driving abilities to the same extent as alcohol.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving while tired accounts for an estimated 100,000 crashes and 1,550 deaths each year. Some automakers have tried to correct the problem with safety features that make a noise or shake the steering wheel when the driver appears to be nodding off, but so far, they haven’t proven very effective.
There’s only one real cure for fatigue and that’s sleep. Coffee is a temporary fix, as is opening a window to get some fresh air. It’s only a matter of time before drowsiness comes creeping back up on you. The best solution is to find a safe place to pull over and get some shuteye. Fifteen to 20 minutes is often enough to get yourself back on track. Next time you start nodding off behind the wheel, tell yourself that it’s better to be 15 minutes late than to wind up in a fatal road accident.