Drowsy Driving: Falling Asleep at the Wheel on a Road Trip
Falling Asleep at the Wheel on a Road Trip
Many of us have fallen asleep at the wheel but few of us would ever consider going to the DMV to take our driving test to get our drivers license. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites that tens of thousands of Americans crash each year due to drowsy driving. However, every year many of us ignore basic road safety rules and we take a road trip and pull and all-nighter and risk falling asleep at the wheel.
I remember in high school my family drove to Mexico over a holiday break. My mom’s violin students were performing at the symphony the night we were leaving so we got a late start to meet my uncles in St. George. My brother and I would have to be up all night to make it on time and join the family caravan. After about two hours and at about one o’clock in the morning, tiredness took over and I made a deal with my brother that I would take a short nap but if he got to tired he was supposed to wake me up. I immediately fell asleep and the next thing I remember was having a night mare that we were driving through a corn field at 90 miles per hour. When I woke up I found that my brother was asleep at the wheel and we were traveling down the dirt median of the freeway at 65 miles per hour. Fortunately we were not in a car accident. My brother was able to get the family minivan back on to the highway but none of us fell asleep again the rest of the night. It was a scary reminder to the start of a long road trip to how serious the everyday practice of driving a car can be.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the warning signs for drowsy driving.
The list includes yawning, drifting in your lane, hitting rumble strips, and even missing your exit. All of the warnings seem fairly obvious but there are many driving tips that are often ignored. Texting and driving is now illegal in most places but people still do it, distracted driving due to the phone, radio, or passengers happens to all of us but we still chose to put our safety on the line every time we are in that situation. Remember that arriving is more important than arriving on time.
The holiday season is when many friends and family hit the road. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s brings a lot of cross country travel to Americans looking to reconnect with friends and family across the nation. Before getting in to your car to stretch out your holiday visit by one extra night or to get a head start by driving through the night instead of getting a good night sleep and getting early start, remember how important it is to be fully aware while driving. This year as we head in to the holiday season and winter driving, make sure to keep you, your passengers and fellow motorist safe by not falling asleep at the wheel.