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Are you sure you’re always awake at the wheel?

SHC has covered the topic of drowsy driving extensively since its launch in September 2014.

If you would like to read all of the work previously appearing in SHC on the subject, simply click here and it will give you a refined search of all SHC blog articles on the topic. This refined search is automatically updated with each new post related to drowsy driving, so feel free to visit again later to learn more and access the latest news.

SHC hopes this page will inspire common sense among its readers so they can stay safe and remain “awake at the wheel.”

AWAKE AT THE WHEEL: What if I become drowsy while driving? Should I be concerned?

Yes! If you are too tired to drive, you become a safety risk not only to yourself, but to passengers, other drivers, pedestrians, and to property owners.

Sleep deprivation is caused by lack of quality sleep, which can be caused by any number of problems:

  • drug interactions or side effects
  • insomnia
  • pain
  • shift work
  • anxiety, depression or mood disorders
  • sleep disorders
  • mental health problems
  • recovery from illness or injury
  • neurological or other medical disorders (hidden or diagnosed)

Even the one-hour time shift that happens twice annually in the spring and fall leads to an uptick in accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel.

If you don’t address issues of sleep deprivation, you can not only find yourself at fault in a deadly vehicular crash, but in the long term, you could also be aggravating preexisting health conditions or setting into motion a host of new problems. These include:

  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • metabolic disorders
  • stroke and hypertension
  • breathing concerns
  • cognitive problems
  • mental illness
  • mood disorders
  • higher risks for accidents of all kinds

Why put yourself at risk? Sleep disorders and deprivation are easily treated. It’s imperative to find out why you can’t sleep so that you can treat the underlying problems.

AWAKE AT THE WHEEL: Signs you might be too tired to drive

  • Persistent yawning
  • Blurred vision, heavy eyelids, frequent blinking, prevailing need to rub the eyes
  • Discovering you unintentionally have one eye closed
  • Sleepiness even after just one alcoholic beverage
  • Trouble focusing one’s attention, having wandering thoughts or daydreams
  • Forgetting where you are, failing to notice your surroundings, missing exits, overlooking traffic signs
  • Trouble keeping your head up, feeling intense relaxation in any part of the body
  • You hear yourself snore or snort yourself awake (!)
  • Noticing careless driving such as lane drifting, riding “rumble strips,” or tailgating

AWAKE AT THE WHEEL: What to do if you are too tired to drive

  • If you are at a friend’s home, ask to sleep over or find a ride home.
  • Ask someone else to drive if you are en route, have a passenger and need to keep to a trip schedule.
  • Find a ride to or from work.
  • Ride the bus.
  • Take an Uber or Lyft.
  • Take a short nap (15 to 20 minutes). Anything longer may make you groggy for at least five minutes after you wake up.
  • Coffee can help, but it takes 30 minutes to kick in. Pull over, get a cup of coffee, and wait half an hour before driving again. If you don’t like coffee, consider a caffeinated product that delivers a similar amount of caffeine to stimulate your nervous system.
  • If you can, take a coffee nap.


Page reviewed 11.3.2017 by Tamara Sellman, RPSGT CCSH