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If you're feeling fatigued while behind the wheel, the ... If you're feeling fatigued while behind the wheel, the best thing to do is pull over and take a nap (Getty Images).
Drowsy driving is a dangerous thing to do. According to several government agencies and private research groups, fatigue behind the wheel is a growing problem, and can be just as serious as drunk driving, impairing motor skills, vision, cognitive ability and decision-making. AAA says that drowsy driving may play a role in 11.6 percent of all fatal accidents.

With millions of Americans getting behind the wheel for long road trips this summer, driving while fatigued is a given. According to a survey from DMEautomotive, drivers are combating the issue in the wrong ways, opting for ineffective fixes that do little to alleviate their drowsiness. The results of the survey showed drivers are far more likely to drink caffeine, open windows, pull over and exercise/stretch, blare loud music and turn up air conditioning -- all of which do little to nothing to lessen the effects of sleep deprivation -- than undergo what is a proven remedy: pulling over and taking a nap.

"This survey reveals a big problem: when people get sleepy on the road, too many take measures that simply don't work," said Mary Sheridan, director of research and analytics for DMEautomotive, in a release. "Most of us do ineffective things like stopping for that third triple-shot cappuccino or slapping water on our face just to keep going. As drivers, we need to heed our drowsiness: and stop and sleep, or let a rested person drive."

In the wake of comic Tracy Morgan's accident involving a tired trucker, Congress has been debating new regulations that mandate rest periods for truck drivers. Ordinary drivers, who face no such restrictions, are affected by drowsy driving too: the results of the survey demonstrated a lack of awareness regarding the dangers of drowsy driving, and the effectiveness of most "remedies." The top strategies for drivers can be seen below:



Notably, only numbers three and seven on the list -- switching drivers and pulling over to take a nap -- are proven to be useful means of combating drowsiness. The top response, drinking a caffeinated beverage, can produce a jolt of alertness, but the effect wears off quickly, according to experts. Contrary to the popular belief, coffee is not a replacement for sleep.

If you're experiencing drowsiness behind the wheel, which can be diagnosed by yawning, inability to remember the last couple of miles driven, blinking more than usual, having trouble keeping eyes open and/or hitting a rumble strip, you need to get off the road. The next best thing to do is to drink some form of caffeinated beverage and take a short nap while you wait for it to kick in. This only works for a limited time, however, and should only be used as a strategy to get you somewhere you can sleep for a proper amount of time.



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  • 254 Comments
      dsherline
      • 10 Months Ago
      What a concept. To combat sleepiness, get some sleep. Who would have ever thought it?
      • 10 Months Ago
      I just put cruise control on and make sure I'm on a straight stretch of road and nap for 10-15 min. I use the rumble strips as my alarm clock. I also have GPS so the car knows where to go.
      rooseveltwallace
      • 10 Months Ago
      What was not mentioned was putting Tabasco Sauce on your tongue. The capsicum in Tabasco Sauce is a powerful stimulant to the body and nervous system. It does not stimulate like caffeine, however it tricks the brain into thinking the body is in pain rather than just the tongue. Works for about 20 minutes per dose. I absolutely guarantee you that you will stay awake during that time. Do this if it is absolutely necessary to continue to drive. Otherwise pull over and get a nap. The down side to this is that you will have a temporarily sore tongue for 1-3 hours after depending on frequency of dose. An additional caveat to this is that after too much use your brain will begin to create endorphins to kill the pain thus making you feel slightly euphoric and drowsier than you were to begin with.
      tangier
      • 10 Months Ago
      I went to sleep with my eyes wide open one time and still am shocked by it. Best thing I found that works is plan your trip so that your driving time will not come into conflict with your sleep time.................easier than done? Yes but just might save your life and others................
      alangwatkins
      • 10 Months Ago
      The trucker is a "piece worker". He makes money each mile he drives, or each piece of road he covers. His income depends on how may miles he can drive in a period of time. I once knew a floor layer that figured that he made X cents per nail. He would count X, X2, X3... keeping track of his earnings. Then one day he started counting, X, X3, X6, X9, as he skipped two nails. I don't think truckers are being greedy and skipping nails, but I do think they push the hours to get the "nails" they need to make a living. Regulating the hours (by Congress) isn't going to regulate their need for "pieces". We need to stop regulating apples to control oranges. Either regulate them by mileage rates, or pay them by the hour.
      Sue
      • 10 Months Ago
      Stop to take a nap and along with that get a $350 fine and a citation for disorderly conduct.
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Sue
        Or die from heat exhaustion when you nap during the summer, or get carjacked for sleeping with a window open, or die from CO poisoning by letting your car run for A/C while napping.
      • 10 Months Ago
      I am a Paramedic and we have this problem all too often but no gov regulations on us we work 24 and if we have to work overtime it is a 48 hours without sleep a lot of the time
      Raven's Nest
      • 10 Months Ago
      Simple solution. Don't drive when fighting fatigue. Countless options!
      budshort
      • 10 Months Ago
      If you have been on the road for 30 hours straight, go ahead and have a couple beers, it can't get any worse...
      • 10 Months Ago
      sunflower seeds works for sleepy driving
      flbuyer1
      • 10 Months Ago
      A semi useless story with ultra predictable info........"switch drivers" "take a nap"......genius! Never would have thought of it!
        lisacatz
        • 10 Months Ago
        @flbuyer1
        Since you are a research scientist with all of the answers and this information is "useless and predictable" perhaps you should apply to a job that involves statistics, data collecting and write more intelligent reports for the public?
      tfarnon
      • 10 Months Ago
      I had my safest cross-country trip ever with my ol' cat Grumpy. He was a very well-mannered cat, and he would "tell" me when it was time to pull over and take a nap. There's nothing better than a short nap with a purring, warm cat on your body.
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