Warning Signs You’re Too Tired to Drive

by Staff | April 12th, 2021

Every driver knows that dreaded feeling: your eyes are heavy, you’re yawning uncontrollably, and you’re still many miles from your destination.

Drowsy driving results in approximately 90,000 crashes and hundreds of deaths each year in the U.S. And tragically, these crashes are entirely preventable. That’s why it’s so important for drivers to recognize the signs of fatigue, so they can take action to save themselves and others from harm in a crash.

Red Flags of Fatigued Driving

If you notice any of the following warning signs, you could be putting yourself or others at risk of a crash:

  • Difficulty keeping eyes open
  • Nodding off
  • Frequent yawning and blinking
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Missing your exit or turn
  • Missing road signs or signals
  • Failing to remember the last few miles you’ve driven

Prevention Is the Best Solution

Ideally, drivers should avoid getting behind the wheel if they’re at risk of falling asleep. Strategies for preventing drowsy driving include:

  • Getting enough sleep. For most people, that’s between seven to nine hours per night.
  • Avoiding driving for long periods without taking breaks or switching drivers. Plan to take a 15-minute break every two hours on a long trip, and to never driver for more than eight hours in a day. 
  • If possible, avoiding driving during periods of peak sleepiness, which is generally between midnight and 6 a.m. and in the late afternoon.
  • Avoiding taking medications that cause drowsiness if you know you may need to drive while it’s in effect.

These steps can help you prevent fatigue, but it’s also worth knowing what to do if you get tired behind the wheel.

What to Do If You’re Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel

If you find yourself getting tired or nodding off behind the wheel, it’s time to act. That means taking the first available exit or entering the first safe place to park available, then taking a nap. Even a brief nap can help you stay awake long enough to arrive safely to your destination, as long as that destination isn’t too far away.

If you have someone else riding in your vehicle who is able to drive, ask them to drive while you take a nap. Though some strategies like listening to loud music, drinking caffeine, or blasting cold air might have marginal benefits to help you stay awake, nothing will truly rejuvenate you as well as sleep. These methods should only be used to get you to a safe place to pull over, not to get you all the way to your destination if you are already feel drowsy.

How to Spot Drowsy Drivers on the Road

We can each do everything in our power to avoid driving while tired, but we’re still at the mercy of our fellow drivers’ efforts to stay safe.

If you notice that a vehicle is drifting into another lane or off the road, then you might be near a drowsy driver. When a driver drifts into your lane or endangers you or other motorists, then you have every right to honk your horn. If possible, slow down or speed up to create a safe distance between you and the other vehicle.

When Injured by a Negligent Driver, You Have Legal Options

If you’re injured in a crash through no fault of your own, you have the right to pursue compensation for all the damages you’ve experienced, including medical bills, lost income, pain, and suffering. Don’t hesitate to contact the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review with our team.