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How can you avoid a drowsy driving crash this holiday season?

We are right in the middle of the holidays, and if you are like many Connecticut residents, you might have plans to see family. The holidays are an exciting time to visit loved ones you have not seen since last year; however, if you are taking a long trip, you need to be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving.

Getting behind the wheel on too little sleep is hazardous no matter how long your drive is, but longer trips can pose additional dangers for numerous reasons. The drive could be monotonous and boring; your excitement the night before the trip might have resulted in less sleep; poor weather and road conditions could exacerbate the dangers when you are sleepy. Drowsy driving is not an insignificant risk, either. Statistics by the National Sleep Foundation report 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries across the country each year due to fatigued drivers.

How can you avoid nodding off behind the wheel and endangering yourself and others? The following tips might help:

  • If you are keyed up the night before a trip, take a sleep aid about an hour before going to bed. Make sure you plan for at least eight hours of sleep.
  • Take someone with you who can switch driving places. You can both help each other stay awake, and take over the wheel when the other gets sleepy.
  • Bring some coffee or an energy drink to sip as you drive. Remember, however, that caffeine may help you stay alert, but should never be used as a substitute for getting adequate rest.
  • If necessary, pull over at a rest stop or shopping center to take a short nap.
  • If your trip is particularly long, consider breaking it up into two parts, and stop at a motel or Airbnb to get some sleep.
  • Do not drive after taking medication that causes drowsiness.

During a holiday trip, or any trip, you should be able to get to your destination safely. Anticipating you might get sleepy and addressing it before it becomes a problem are smart ways to avoid a sleep-related accident.

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