Alaskan drivers already have to worry about icy roads and fog affecting their morning commute. Now, they also have to watch out for sleepy drivers or people who forgot their usual cup of coffee.
It's not a small concern either; according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost three percent of fatal crashes involve drowsy driving. Experts say the percentage is conservative with more than 5,000 crashes happening each year due to restless driving.
Warning signs of a tired driver
Identifying the signs of a drowsy driver before they hit the road prevents major accidents or severe injuries for other residents on the street. Some symptoms include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Having trouble with directions or missing turns
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Trouble keeping your head up
Most of these signs are found in all types of drivers. However, young drivers, under 30 years old, are the most likely to drive sleepily. According to the NHTSA, "drivers younger than 30 accounted for almost two-thirds of drowsy-driving crashes, despite representing only about one-fourth of licensed drivers.
Other groups at risk for drowsy driving include shift workers (police officers, firefighters or truck drivers) and adults with untreated sleep disorders.
What can drivers do to prevent drowsy driving?
Oftentimes, people underestimate how fatigued they are when they hit the highway. They may believe they can quickly get home or to work because they've made the trip multiple times, but it doesn't stop drowsiness from taking over behind the wheel.
Drivers should take a few precautions before making a long drive such as getting a full night's sleep, pulling over to rest, consuming caffeine and plan trips for when you're the most awake. A few simple steps will keep you awake and focus on the road.