It’s so dangerous that experts say it’s as bad as driving drunk. According to CNN, some of the factors that cause drowsy driving crashes are early morning or late night driving, sleep loss, medications, and untreated sleep disorders. Young males between the ages of 16 and 29 are most at risk. Shift workers whose sleep is disrupted - either by working at night or working long or irregular hours - also face high risks. If you need to commute, The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration says you should plan to get sufficient sleep before you hit the road. You sould also limit driving between midnight and 6am if you can. If you do become sleepy while driving, PULL OVER. Either let another driver take over, or if you’re alone, taking a 15 to 20 minute nap in a well lit area will increase your alertness in the short term. So will drinking two cups of coffee.
Mark Seenquist, the editor of RoadTripAmerica.com, says here’s what WON’T keep you awake: Opening the window and blasting yourself with cold air. When drivers in a British study tried that method, they didn’t report feeling any more alert. Another method that’s a bust: Talking to a passenger. It doesn’t work. In a Miami University of Ohio study, chit chatting drivers took 16% longer to hit the brakes when stopping. This method doesn't work either: Cranking the radio. A study published in the journal Sleep found that listening to CDs or the radio failed to energize sleepy drivers.
Drowsy driving is not only as bad as driving drunk – it happens more often. In the span of a micro-sleep – which are moments when you zone out anywhere from two to 20 seconds – you can travel hundreds of yards. Enough to drift out of your lane, into oncoming traffic, or a tree! Bottom line? When you drive, you’re operating heavy machinery. So be responsible. Pull over and take a short walk. In a U.S. Army study, 10 minutes of brisk walking helped sleep deprived pilots stay more alert for hours.