Driving While Fatigued

blurred lights at night

Are we more tired in the winter due to minimal daylight?  In short—yes.  It makes sense really, light coming through our windows in the morning wakes us up and we don’t think about bedtime until it’s dark.  During the summer our serotonin levels are higher which creates energy and good feelings.  This diminishes in the winter.  Feeling tired led me to think about all the accidents that occur due to sleepiness while driving.

Drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 accidents each year in the United States.  Usually these accidents occur between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. but can also occur during the day for those that get drowsy in the afternoons.  While I’m not sure if there have been any studies linking more fatigue-induced accidents to the winter months, a correlation would make sense.  None-the-less, a recent New York Times article stated that over 4% of adults have said that they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel, and researches believe this number to be much higher.

The biggest problem is getting less than the necessary sleep at night.  Many adults suffer from insomnia and some just don’t have enough hours in the day for everything they need to do.  Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.  If you’re dealing with sleep issues the best thing to do is to seek treatment as soon as possible.

If you experience the following symptoms while driving, pull over right away.

  • Yawning frequently
  • Forgetting the past few miles driven
  • Missing your turn-offs
  • Drifting
  • Hitting the rumble strip on the highway
  • Daydreaming
  • Varying speed

It’s not good enough to blast the radio and drink triple shots if you’re experiencing these symptoms.  Pull over for a quick nap or if you can, change drivers.  An auto accident and subsequent auto body repair costs are not worth the risk.  It’s amazing how quickly you can nod off while driving, and the result could be disastrous.

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