When I was a senior in high school, I fell asleep behind the wheel while driving. It was a brisk morning following a night of literally no sleep at a friend’s birthday party. We had rented out a rock climbing gym for an overnight extravaganza, and fun was had by all. We climbed, ate cake, and played hide-and-seek in the dark; but this fun night/morning almost had a fatal twist.
On my way home, after all the sugar started to wear off, both of my eyelids seemed to transform into 50-pound dumbbells, making it nearly impossible for me to keep my eyes open. After struggling with this overwhelming desire to fall asleep for a few miles, I decided that I was okay and would just tough it out until I got home. However, shortly after that thought, I found myself being rudely awakened by the rocks on the side of the road being tossed around under my car as I drifted towards the woods.
Suddenly my eyes jerked open and I was able to pilot my car back onto the road. Thank goodness there was no one driving the other way and no one was walking on the side of the road. I got lucky. Very lucky. And if I remember right, the adrenaline produced in my body following this incident was enough to keep me awake for the next few days.
Unfortunately, not everyone that falls asleep behind the wheel ends up as lucky as I did on that morning. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatigue is responsible for 100,000 reported crashes, 1,500 fatalities and 71,000 injuries every year.
A recent article published by the New York Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/) offers up tips to combat falling asleep at the wheel. Read them carefully – they might save your life.
- Accept that you are tired and don’t try to “tough it out”. Pulling over for a quick nap can help you feel refreshed and finish your journey safely.
- If you’re going on a long trip, plan it responsibly. Don’t drive after a long day of work, but if you have to, plan something stimulating in between work and your drive.
- Put aside necessary funds for sleeping in a roadside hotel.
- Schedule your drive so that it coincides with your normal sleep schedule.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal before your drive. Also related to foods, sometimes a snack like peanuts or beef jerky can help to keep your mind and body occupied so you stay awake.
- Bring a passenger. Someone to talk to can always help keep you from falling asleep.
- Utilize rest areas- it helps to stretch your legs or grab a nice caffeinated beverage.
For NYDaily’s full article and list of tips, visit http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-08-21/news/33307274_1_maggie-s-law-sleepy-driver-wheel. And for a look at how Cadillac is taking steps to keep you safe behind the wheel (even if you fall asleep), check out this video featuring the Safety Alert Seat available on the new XTS.