Driving drowsy is probably responsible for thousands of traffic-related deaths each year. In my most recent blog series, I’ve been exploring drowsy driving and what to do about it. Today, in the last installment of this series, I want to cover ways to recognize drowsy driving – in yourself and in others – so that you can stay safe on the roads. Be alert and save a life. Please.
Signs That You Are Driving Drowsy
This is a no-brainer: if you know you haven’t been getting enough sleep, you’re likely to be driving drowsy. Still, let’s go over some of the obvious in-the-moment signs that can let you know you’re crossing the line from not-quite-your-best to dangerous:
- Frequent blinking or yawning
- Automatic driving – tuning out and then having difficulty remembering the last few miles you’ve driven
- Missing your turn or your exit
If you’re missing turns or feeling “on autopilot” you’re probably driving drowsy. Mentally step back and take a moment to decide whether to continue.
As Dr. Dement of Stanford Sleep and Dreams stresses, “Drowsiness is Red Alert!” Memorizing that phrase and the emphasis on serious danger that comes with it could save a life. If you’re tuned to think “red alert” when you start to blink, yawn, or drift as you drive, it might wake you up just enough to get you safely off the road.
Signs That Someone Else Is Driving Drowsy
If another driver is sitting still at a green light, driving slowly, drifting from his lane, or hitting the rumble strip repeatedly, he may be driving drowsy. If you see a car that looks as if it may drift far enough to leave the road, honk your horn—you may wake the driver and save a life.