The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving is related to at least 100,000 motor-vehicle crashes and more than 1,500 deaths per year. The estimated amount of damage caused by drowsy driving is about $12.5 billion.

Chances are most of us have driven while drowsy. It helps to be aware, so you know when you or someone you’re riding with needs a break. Warning signs include:

  • Yawning
  • Rubbing or struggling to keep your eyes open
  • “Nodding off” or trouble keeping your head up
  • Inability to remember driving the last few miles
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a rumble strip
  • Missing road signs or turns
  • Daydreaming or wandering/disconnected thoughts

Rolling down the windows or turning up the radio won’t help to increase your alertness. These are some better ways to avoid drowsy driving.

The best way to make sure you’re in optimal driving shape is to plan ahead and get 7-8 hours of sleep before you drive. Other methods to prevent drowsy driving include:

1. Take a nap before a road trip.

This can help make up for a short night’s sleep.

2. Take a mid-drive nap.

If you find yourself starting to show the warning signs of drowsy driving, pull over and take a short 20-minute nap. Make sure you pull over to a safe location and remember you may be groggy for 15 minutes or so after waking up.

3. Use the buddy system.

It’s safest to drive with someone else during long trips. Pull over every two hours or so and switch drivers. When you’re not driving, take a nap if possible.

4. Try not to drive between midnight and 6 a.m.

With the body’s biological rhythm, this is a time when sleepiness is most intense. If you work an alternate schedule, make sure you give your body time to adjust and continue to get 7-8 hours of sleep.

5. Drink caffeine.

Drinking caffeine can improve alertness, but only for a short period of time. Be aware when the effects start to wear off.

Knowing the warning signs and having some helpful ways to combat drowsy driving will help you stay safe. Contact your Farm Bureau agent to find out how driving safe can help save you money on your insurance.