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How to Prevent Falling Asleep at the Wheel

Young sleepy man is yawning and driving car at night.

Drowsy driving is a leading cause of car crashes across the United States. Studies have shown that going without sleep causes the same impairment to driving as drinking alcohol. Being awake for 18 hours is the same as driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%, which is enough to be impaired. Being awake for 24 hours is equivalent to driving with a BAC of 0.10%, which is over the legal limit. If you find yourself drifting off while driving, there are a few tricks you can utilize to keep yourself alert and safe. If you’ve been hurt by a drowsy driver in the Antelope Valley, reach out to a dedicated Lancaster car accident lawyer.

Get Enough Sleep at Night

The first and best way to avoid falling asleep at the wheel is to make sure you are well-rested before a big trip. It may seem obvious, but drowsy driving is a major cause of traffic accidents every year. Get at least six to eight hours of sleep at night, and if you did not sleep the night before or for several nights in a row, limit your driving. Drivers who sleep five or fewer hours are at a significantly higher risk for getting into a crash.

Take a Power Nap

Taking a 30-minute nap just before driving can help alleviate some of the dangers of drowsy driving. You will feel more refreshed a few minutes after waking up and more alert while on the road. If you are starting to drift off to sleep while driving, pull over to a safe spot in a parking lot or on the side of the road and take a power nap.

Watch What You Eat and Drink

If you are drifting off at the wheel, you might be inclined to chug an espresso or a soda. Be careful. Caffeine and sugary drinks may temporarily increase your energy, but they may not actually increase your mental alertness, and they may lead to a crash shortly down the line. You are better off drinking water or juice and eating high-protein foods rather than heavier junk food.

Take a Break

Even if you aren’t going to take a nap, it is still important to pull over and take a break every couple of hours. If you are with other people, periodically switch drivers. Even if you are alone, you should still take a break every two hours to take a short rest, stretch, and collect yourself.

Wear Sunglasses During the Day
It may seem counter-intuitive, but bright light can actually contribute to drowsiness. Bright light makes you squint, which makes your eyes tired. It can exacerbate your drowsy feelings and make you feel like closing your eyes. Wearing sunglasses can help alleviate the issues.

Watch Your Medications

Many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, have drowsiness as a side effect. Benadryl and other allergy medications, for example, can cause significant drowsiness. Be wary of the side effects of any drug you take, and do not drive after taking a drug that causes drowsiness.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a negligent driver in California, talk to a dedicated and excellent Lancaster car crash attorney about pursuing a claim for damages by calling the Kistler Law Firm at 661-206-6990.

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