While the pressures of work and life’s obligations might keep you on the road for more hours than you would like, there comes a time when you simply have to call it quits. Whether you regularly spend a long time driving or have an upcoming road trip, here are five drowsy driving warning signs to look out for.
1. Frequent Yawning
Your body’s first indication that it needs more sleep is frequent yawning. As your brain slows down, it’s temperature drops. Your body yawns to heat your cranium back up and keep the brain alert. This is the case when you’re tired, bored, or in a colder environment.
When your yawning becomes frequent, it means that your body’s attempts are failing. Turning up the radio or listening to faster-paced music can help, but eventually you will fall asleep at the wheel. Take this first warning as a sign that you need to get off the road soon.
2. Short-Term Memory Loss
Have you ever reached your destination but forgot how you arrived? It happens more often than you might think. Your brain knows your most traveled roads like the back of your hand, which can cause you to go on autopilot while driving at times.
However, if you find yourself forgetting the last few miles driven or feel like you came out of a haze, it’s a sign that your brain is powering down for some much needed sleep. This is especially true when driving on unfamiliar roads. Accident attorneys at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal recommend pulling over immediately before you find yourself in a car wreck.
3. Nodding Off or a Heavy Head
If you’re having trouble keeping your head in an upright position or find yourself nodding off, this is an extreme sign of drowsy driving. Don’t risk traveling any further. Pull over as soon as possible, take the keys out of the ignition, and get some shuteye.
4. Missing Traffic Signs
Everyone misses a traffic sign from time to time, but long trips demand that you keep your eyes peeled for exits. Missing your exit or another traffic sign means your brain can’t keep up with the journey. The last thing you want is to cause an accident, so get to the nearest rest stop and call it quits for the day.
5. Drifting Out of Your Lane
This is the most dangerous sign of all and one of the leading causes of truck driver accidents. If you find yourself drifting out of your lane, then your chances of causing an accident have skyrocketed. Pull off to the side of the road and take a nap as soon as you can to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
You can use caffeine to combat these signs of drowsiness, but the effects only last so long. If you’ve had plenty of coffee or energy drinks already, then it’s time to get some sleep. If you can, ask a passenger to drive. If not, then you need to pull over somewhere safe.
Stop and take some time to review your emergency essentials, first aid kit, tire iron, spare tire, etc. Making sure you have jumper cables available, and making sure you know how to jump start a car are very important. If you are becoming drowsy, this is a good time to get out, take a break, and make sure you have everything you need to stay safe.