You’ve been driving for a while, alone, and start to yawn. Your eyes get heavy. Suddenly, your head snaps up and you realize you dozed off for a millisecond.
Think it can’t happen to you? Think again. Within any 30-day period, about one in 25 drivers over the age of 18 reports having fallen asleep while driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More fast facts about drowsy driving:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving leads to 100,000 police-reported crashes each year, resulting in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and a $12.5 billion cost to the economy.
- Adults between 18 and 29 are the most likely to drive while drowsy (71% vs. 52% for 30- to 64-year-olds, or 19% for those aged 65 and over), according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- People with children are more likely to drive while drowsy than people without children (59% vs. 45%).
6 ways to stay alert on the road—and keep safe:
- Sleep sufficiently. The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
- Stay engaged. Chat with your passengers or sing along to some tunes. Before driving, pick a playlist (or podcast) that will rev you up. If you’re talking on the phone, use hands-free.
- Pair up. When traveling long distances, taking turns behind the wheel allows you to rest without putting your trip on pause.
- Get some air. Roll down your windows for a blast of air and consider looking for a safe place to pull over to take a 20-minute nap. If you’re on the highway, the stimulating sounds of the rushing wind can also help keep you alert.
- Catch up on your reading. Audiobooks can help keep your attention—try an app or a local library for audio titles before you go.
- Take a break. Get out and stretch, use the restroom or get a snack every 100 miles or 2 hours.
Learning defensive driving techniques can help you become a better driver and earn you a discount on car insurance. Visit GEICO’s defensive driver discounts section for more information.
Illustration by Sébastien Thibault