Most drivers are aware of the risks associated with driving while drunk or while texting, but they might not realize many of the same dangers occur if they’re driving while drowsy as well. Drowsy driving is usually the result of a lack of sleep but can also happen due to other factors such as medications, untreated sleep disorders, and late-night shift work.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that drowsy driving may be responsible for up to 6,000 fatal crashes every year. This shocking estimate highlights how dangerous it is to drive while tired or sleepy.

If you have ever fallen asleep at the wheel or regularly feel tired while on the road, you should consider the following tips to avoid drowsy driving:

  • A full night’s sleep – The best way to avoid drowsy driving is by sleeping a total of 7-8 hours of sleep. When you’re well-rested, you will be much more alert while on the road.
  • Take breaks along the way – If you feel tired while driving, pull over to the side of the road, stop at a gas station or a rest area, and take a few minutes to recharge. Do some stretches, have a snack, or call a friend on the phone. It might make your trip a little longer, but the added time is a small price to pay in exchange for an accident.
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up – If you work late nights, instead of driving home yourself, you may want to arrange to have a friend or family member pick you up instead. Alternatively, if you already drove yourself to work and you feel too tired to make it back, call someone to take you home. You can always pick up your car later.
  • Avoid alcohol – Drinking and driving already have plenty of risks that you should avoid. Alcohol can also make you even more sleepy, so its best to avoid consuming any drinks if you know you’ll be on the road soon after.
  • Drink caffeine – Caffeinated drinks can help combat sleepiness. You may want to have a caffeinated drink handy while you’re driving to boost your wakefulness.
  • Take turns – If you’re on a road trip with a few friends, take turns behind the wheel to give everyone the chance to recharge.

Drowsy driving can lead to falling asleep at the wheel, which can result in serious accidents, causing harm to you and others. It’s crucial that you take precautionary steps to avoid drowsy driving to guarantee your safety while on the road. Stay aware of signs of drowsiness such as heavy eyelids, yawning, and frequent blinking.

If you think you’re falling asleep, pull over immediately and recharge or call someone to pick you up. Your safety should always come first.