drowsy driver

Heads Up! Are You Driving Drowsy?

You’ve been driving for a while, alone, and start to yawn. Your eyes get heavy. Suddenly, your head snaps up and you realize you dozed off for a millisecond.

Think it can’t happen to you? Think again. Within any 30-day period, about one in 25 drivers over the age of 18 reports having fallen asleep while driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drowsy Driving StatisticsMore Fast Facts About Drowsy Driving

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving leads to 100,000 police-reported crashes each year, resulting in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and a $12.5 billion cost to the economy.
  • Adults between 18 and 29 are the most likely to drive while drowsy (71% vs. 52% for 30- to 64-year-olds, or 19% for those aged 65 and over), according to the National Sleep Foundation.
  • People with children are more likely to drive while drowsy than people without children (59% vs. 45%).
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6 Ways To Stay Alert On The Road—And Keep Safe:

  1. Sleep sufficiently. The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
  2. Stay engaged. Chat with your passengers or sing along to some tunes. Before driving, pick a playlist (or podcast) that will rev you up. If you’re talking on the phone, use hands-free.
  3. Pair up. When traveling long distances, taking turns behind the wheel allows you to rest without putting your trip on pause.
  4. Get some air. Roll down your windows for a blast of air and consider looking for a safe place to pull over to take a 20-minute nap. If you’re on the highway, the stimulating sounds of the rushing wind can also help keep you alert.
  5. Catch up on your reading. Audiobooks can help keep your attention—try an app or a local library for audio titles before you go.
  6. Take a break. Get out and stretch, use the restroom or get a snack every 100 miles or 2 hours.

Learning defensive driving techniques can help you become a better driver and earn you a discount on car insurance. Visit GEICO’s defensive driver discounts section for more information.

Next: 7 Bad Driving Habits to Avoid

Illustration by Sébastien Thibault

Video Animation by Heather Van Gilder

Voice-Over by Steven Scott

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    Leave a comment

  1. Naomi Love says,

    As of 22 years long haul driver.never drive when yr tired.not even if u have just woke up.get good and awake befor a long trip

  2. sylvia says,

    Tilting your head down (bringing your chin to your chest) forces you to keep your eyelids up which prevents falling asleep.
    If you find you are becoming drowsy try this technique till you can pull into a rest stop
    or station. It does help.
    When you feel that urge / the getting drowsy stage / pull in to a rest area as soon as you can,
    put your seat down and give in to the urge. Cover your eyes – that helps you fall into a deep sleep. When you give into the urge you fall asleep faster and the short nap help a whole lot.
    drive safely…. someone loves you!!

  3. ritz says,

    I get a not messy sandwich to go and eat it while I’m driving. Something that is easy to eat and doesn’t distract me. Keeps me alert and its hard to fall asleep eating something. Plus munching on fruits and vegetables is good too

  4. Hal Zapken says,

    Tedium also causes drowsiness. Stagnant air as well. Crack open the window, change the radio station, alter your route to keep it interesting and do take periodic rests.

  5. Jon F says,

    I’ve been a night professional driver for 6 years now. All I can say is COFFEE. sleep is also important, some would think u save more hours in your day by neglecting sleep and that’s ok if u don’t intend to drive.

  6. Momma T says,

    I find I get drowsy when sitting in traffic in the mornings. Sitting through 3 light cycles at an intersection saps all the mojo I start out with. Once I get to work and out of the car I am fine, but it’s a battle to get there.

  7. J.A.G. says,

    As a female often driving long hours alone on Florida highways I always drive in the daytime. I drive only on interstates and the turnpike where I know they have busy service plazas and rest areas. When I get drowsy I pull off at one of the service plazas near the front door, cover my front window with a sun screen, put my seat back, grab a pillow and take a nap with the doors locked. I once was so tired I slept for an hour, but usually only 20- 30 minutes. When I get back on the road I feel like a new person.

  8. Sanjay Joseph says,

    Often times, when sleep isn’t the issue, drowsiness can be caused by dehydration. We don’t often think about water but even when we aren’t thirsty, our bodies may be suffering from lack of water. Of course, you may be stopping to use the restroom more but that better than waking up with your car wrapped around a tree.

  9. Robert VanAlst says,

    Good tips on drowsy driving. As a professional long haul truck driver, they all work.
    Please, don’t drive tired. It’s as bad as drunk.

  10. Hugh Rackleff says,

    Thank you. I’ve been driving for 60 years and know the sleep hazards. No Doz tabs seem to give muscle seizures after overuse. Coffee will also try to stall build up lactic acid in the body and, whats the point?. Ultimately, is time really that critical? Take rest breaks, it’s really a no brainer

  11. William Highland says,

    When you must drive and are tired, do the following:
    a. stop more frequently and rest your eyes and taking a short break
    b. look into the possibility of using one of the 4 hour energy drinks..(very Effective)
    c. pull off into a rest area and take a short nap…
    d. If another driver is onboard and rested let them drive for awhile…

    • Thomas Mangan says,

      The absolute BEST & only things that will really keep you alert while driving are sunflower seeds or dip. These keep you occupied & awake while still keeping your eyes open & on the road.

  12. Red Sam Rackham says,

    Get lots of sleep, pull over to a rest stop and nap for a while and then have a cup of coffe when you’re rested but remember that caffiene alone is never a substitute for adequate sleep. ☺

  13. T Dog says,

    If I become sleepy while driving, I slap myself a couple of times across the face. It usually works great.

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