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Avoid Drowsy Driving on Long Drives this Summer

Summer vacation season is fast approaching, and many Atlanta families are preparing to make trips out of town.  Many of these trips will involve long drives to faraway destinations.  These long drives, unfortunately, can come with an increased risk of fatigued or drowsy driving.

The Better Sleep Council is marking the month of May as Better Sleep Month, and is encouraging Americans to practice the good sleeping habits in order to avoid feeling the effects that fatigue and lack of sleep deprivation can cause. For motorists, sleep deprivation is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Several studies have indicated that a motorist who is driving after having had little sleep in the previous 24 hours, is as much at risk of being involved in a car accident as a person who’s driving under the influence of alcohol.

Maintaining consistent sleep patterns is key to getting sufficient sleep every day.  Ideally, you should be sleeping at the same time every day. Avoid scrolling through your mobile phone or exercising before you sleep.  Relaxing activities like reading will help put you in a better mood for sleep. The Better Sleep Council also recommends that you avoid alcohol and smoking before bed.

This summer, reduce your chances of being involved in an accident on a long trip by taking basic precautions. In order to prevent sleepiness before a trip, make sure that you have sufficient sleep before you start off on your journey. Ideally, you should have slept at least 8 hours the night before your trip in order to avoid sleepiness while driving. Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol. Even a single drink could exacerbate your tiredness and fatigue, making it absolutely dangerous for you to drive.

Fatigue is much more likely to set in when you’re the only one driving on a really long trip. Ask your partner, spouse, or anyone else to share driving duties with you. Avoid starting on a long trip at night or around the time that you typically sleep. Your body’s natural circadian rhythm will cause fatigue to set in, even if you have had sufficient sleep the previous night.  Plan to begin driving during times of the day when you are typically active and alert.

Take breaks often when you are on a long trip. A light walk or stretching exercises can trigger alertness, minimizing the effects of sleepiness. Caffeine can help increase alertness levels. Recognize the signs of being sleepy while driving. Being sleepy doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to fall asleep at the wheel.  Yawning incessantly, being unable to remember the last 10 seconds of your driving, and inability to focus are all danger signs.

If you find yourself yawning continuously, or are finding difficult to hold up your head or keep your eyes open, or are unable to focus on the present, assume that you are at risk of an accident. Pull over somewhere safe, like a designated rest area or parking space, and get at least 30 minutes of sleep before driving again.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent persons who have been injured in car accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, talk to an Atlanta car accident lawyer, and determine your legal options for a claim for damages.   

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