You have had a few close calls over the years on Minnesota highways – you are just driving along when a tractor-trailer or family vehicle veers too close to your lane or even swerves over the double yellow line. You may not be sure what the other driver was doing that nearly got you seriously injured or killed, but chances are he or she may have been nodding off behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving causes thousands of crashes, injuries and fatalities across the country each year according to the National Sleep Foundation. This may not come as a surprise to you since maybe you have felt sleepy behind the wheel a few times in your life. If so, you are not alone. In a survey, 60 percent of drivers admitted to driving drowsy in the past year, and 13 percent said it happens at least monthly. Even more frightening, more than one in drivers said they have fallen asleep at the wheel.
You might want to take steps to avoid causing a crash that could injure yourself or others. Before getting in your car, you could consider the following:
- Be sure to get a good night’s sleep before going on a long trip.
- Talk to your doctor if you have conditions that are preventing you from getting adequate sleep every night or if you take medications that cause drowsiness.
- Bring someone else to switch driving with you on a road trip.
- Do not rely on caffeine to keep you alert on longer trips – coffee or energy drinks are best left for your morning commute.
- If you feel yourself nodding off or getting too sleepy to drive, pull over in a safe spot and stretch your legs or take a brief nap.
Following the above tips may keep you and others safer on the road, but it does not prevent others from driving drowsy. You may be eligible to receive compensation after an injury caused by a negligent driver.