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Ways to stay alert when driving

Distracted driving is a serious problem throughout the entire country, and it's not just talking on cell phones or eating that take your focus off the road. Driving distracted implies anything that pulls your full attention from driving, and drowsiness can be a huge factor. Sleepy drivers have a difficult time staying alert and may have slower reaction times, making it difficult to drive defensively and stop accidents before they happen.

Signs you should pull over

You may not even realize how tired you are before you start driving, so watch for the following signs from the National Sleep Foundation that you may need to take a break:

  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Drooping head
  • Constantly rubbing your eyes or nodding your head
  • Heavy eyelids, frequent blinking and lack of focus
  • Disconnected or wandering thoughts
  • Drifting out of your lane

If you've hit one of the rumble strips on the side of the road, it's often a wake-up call to get you to pay attention and stay focused.

Tips for staying awake

The best thing to do when you are drowsy while driving is to pull over and take a nap or continue your trip later. This is not always possible, so the following tips can help keep you and other drivers safe on the road:

  • Avoid driving between midnight and six AM, as you are more likely to be sleepy at this time.
  • Pull over and take a quick nap for about 20 minutes, and stay extremely alert after your nap to combat grogginess from sleep.
  • If you did not get a lot of sleep the night before, take a nap before you leave if you have time.
  • Always take it slow, as it is better to arrive late than to not arrive at all.
  • Never consume alcohol while driving, as even the tiniest amounts can make you drowsier.
  • If your trip is only a few hours long, try to drink something with caffeine in it to keep you more alert, although the effects will wear off and you may crash after a few hours.

It is the responsibility of every driver on the road to stay safe and alert when driving to prevent accidents or injury to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians. If you have been involved in an accident with a driver who was irresponsibly driving drowsy and you are concerned about the injuries you are dealing with, it may be beneficial to speak to a lawyer about any questions you have.

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