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.

Share This Photo X