How can you avoid becoming a drowsy driver? There are a number of measures you can take to reduce the risk to yourself and others.
There is also the more dangerous "sleep driving". Sleep driving is defined as driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic medication. The Z-drugs seem particularly notorious at inducing sleep driving. (Sleep driving is not a type of sleep walking.)
Most car crashes in the United States do not involve alcohol. Most people in car crashes are wearing seat belts. While in recent decades awareness of the dangers of alcohol and the need to buckle-up have become raised in the public mind, drowsy driving remains an underappreciated danger. At Sleepdex, we want to encourage more attention to this hazard.
A Harvard researcher called drowsy driving an epidemic. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3190420/
While government agencies and advocacy organizations do raise the topic of drowsy driving and try to educate motorists, we believe more can be done. The success in raising awareness about drunk driving should be an inspiration when it comes to pushing for more and bigger awareness of drowsy driving risks.
Why is New Jersey the only state with a law explicitly naming drowsy driving as illegal? We know police can get drowsy drivers on reckless driving charges, but a law about drowsy driving would make it easier for prosecutors to get convictions, might make police more likely to keep an eye out for sleepy drivers, and could spark more concern among the general public. Stopping drowsy driving before it happens is the best response, whether this means keeping a tired people out of the driver’s seat or getting all drivers to get a good night’s sleep before embarking on a trip.
The federal government's "Healthy People" initiative aims to reduce the rate of car crashes due to sleepiness.
There’s hype about self-driving cars, and as far as we are concerned, they can’t get here fast enough. With proper safety systems, self-driving cars promise to lower accident, injury, and fatality rates. Computers may occasionally screw up, but at least they don’t get sleepy.
In the meantime some newer cars are incorporating systems that try to detect driver drowsiness and issue a warning. We have not found data on the efficacy of these devices, but the idea is a great one.
Some people say caffeine will keep them going. Others employ tricks such as having a cigarette when they get tired, opening the window, or turning the radio up.
Caffeine can mitigate the effects of sleepiness, but it takes some time to kick in. If you are already tired when you first drink it, it may not help in time. Also, if you are a regular coffee or soda drinker, you have likely built a tolerance and the effect will likely be much smaller and will not last as long as you think.
While taking in some nicotine can produce a slight improvement in driving performance for a short time, the effects are not enough to overcome sleepiness.
Many believe distractions will help them stay awake so they turn the radio up loud or open a window, hoping the rush of wind will keep them awake. Once again, these will have a short-term effect, but a tired body is still a tired body.
Rumble strips on the highways can also help alert drowsy drivers once they start drifting out of their lanes.