Fleet Safety

How to Avoid Drowsy Driving and Falling Asleep at the Wheel

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Drowsy driving is one of the greatest dangers that drivers in America face. Fleet drivers are even more susceptible since they face long hours behind the wheel with few breaks. For a job like fleet driving, it may seem challenging to combat drowsy driving, but it is a critical task to take on in a fleet driver safety program. After all, drowsy driving can be fatal not only for fleet driving but also for anyone else on the road. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drowsiness was a factor in nearly 2.4% of all fatal crashes. While many drivers think they can force themselves to stay awake, doing so is very dangerous. This article will discuss the dangers of drowsy driving and how fleets can avoid drowsy driving, so you can prioritize fleet driver safety. 

How to Know When You’re Too Tired to Drive

There are many signs to look out for to know when you may be too tired to drive. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety highlights eight signs that you may be too tired to continue driving: 

  • When you have trouble keeping your eyes open or focused on the road
  • When you are unable to keep your head up
  • When you are daydreaming or having wandering, disconnected thoughts
  • When you are drifting from your lane or off the road, or if you are tailgating
  • If you are frequently yawning or rubbing your eyes
  • If you are missing signs or missing your exit
  • When you are feeling irritable or restless
  • When you are unable to remember how far you have traveled or what landmarks you have recently passed 

Once you have identified that you are too tired to drive, pull over and find a place to rest immediately. Trying to push through the haze of tiredness is likely to end in disaster and could be fatal to you or other drivers. 

Who May Be Susceptible to Drowsy Driving?

As we mentioned earlier, fleet drivers are at particular risk for drowsy driving. They drive for long hours, and even if they don’t start tired, it’s easy for them to become bored or tired during the monotonous drive. Luckily, the ELD mandate put strict limitations on how long fleet drivers can go without breaks and rest. It is critical that fleets follow these regulations, not only to avoid the hefty fines but to keep their drivers and everyone else on the road safe. 

However, other factors can cause drivers to become drowsy. For example, anyone who gets less than seven hours of sleep can become tired while driving. Adolescents behind the wheel need eight hours. This is not a rule that fits everybody. Some people actually require more sleep, so it is essential to pay attention to how you feel rather than the exact amount of time that you slept. This means that even if you get eight hours of sleep but still feel tired, it is not a good idea to get behind the wheel. 

Sleep disorders can also cause drivers to fall asleep behind the wheel. These disorders can make someone feel tired very suddenly or keep drivers up at night. When these problems affect drivers they can cause drowsy driving, leading to accidents or injuries. 

Finally, some medications can make drivers so tired that they should not be behind the wheel. Carefully check the label on any medicines you take to ensure that it’s safe to operate vehicles while medicated. 

How to Avoid Drowsy Driving

There are a few steps that you can take to avoid driving while tired or falling asleep at the wheel. 

The most obvious is ensuring that you get seven hours of sleep. It is also beneficial to get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. If you have to alter your regular sleep schedule, you may become unexpectedly drowsy. It is best not to drive under these circumstances. 

If you have a sleep disorder, get treatment immediately. Look out for signs of sleep disorders such as snoring at night or feeling sleepy during the day. These disorders are dangerous behind the wheel, and you should talk to your doctor right away. 

As we mentioned, you should always check your medications to ensure that they don’t cause sleepiness. Various medications cause these side effects, but the label will always warn you if this is the case. 

Fleet managers can also work to catch drowsy driving when it happens. Dashcams that record what is happening in the cab of their vehicles detect signs of drowsiness such as yawning or unfocused eyes. When the dashcam notices these signs, it alerts the fleet manager to have the driver take a break. 

Follow Azuga for More Tips on Fleet Safety

Fleet safety is Azuga’s top priority. We offer various technology solutions that improve the safety of fleets all over the country every day, including dashcams that catch drowsy driving. To learn more about how to keep your fleet safe, follow our blog.