Did you ever wake up doing 60 mph?

It’s one of the most unnerving experiences in driving: You’ve been on the road a while. The highway seems endless, long, smooth and monotonous. The car interior is warm. You’re tired. The radio isn’t holding your attention, and neither is the driving. You stare straight ahead, at miles and miles of road, you start to feel your shoulders sag, and your eyes slowly start…to…close. Abruptly, you open your eyes and jerk up in your seat. You suddenly notice that you’ve been drifting out of your lane, or even off the road. You steer back into your lane, take a few deep breaths and realize, fearfully, what just happened: you were asleep.

Fatigue on the road can lead to various different auto accidents. It happens frequently on long drives, especially long night drives. You may have recognized some warning signs of fatigue in the foregoing scenario. Other signs of fatigue include back tension, burning eyes, shallow breathing, inattentiveness and any kind of erratic driving, such as lane-drifting, driving at abnormal speeds, tailgating or failure to obey traffic signs.

According to the National Safety Council, 37 percent of all drivers have momentarily nodded off or fallen asleep at the wheel at least once, and eight percent have done it in the last six months.

What is Driver Fatigue?

People often equate driver fatigue with falling asleep at the wheel, but falling asleep is only the final sign of extreme fatigue. Long before you nod off you can be fatigued enough to suffer from seriously impaired driving.

So how do you know if you’re too fatigued to drive?

You probably won’t —that’s the problem. Get to know the warnings signs and don’t try to fight fatigue.

You shouldn’t be behind the wheel if you’re experiencing minor aches and pains, headache, tired eyes, boredom, fidgeting, lack of attention, tenseness, nervousness, yawning, drowsiness, nodding off, difficulty concentrating or are missing traffic signs.

Equipping yourself with information on how to avoid fatigue-related accidents can help make you a safer driver. Here are some tips from the American Automobile Association :

• Take a break from driving at least every two hours.

• Get a good night’s sleep before a long trip.

• Share the driving whenever possible.

• Avoid long drives after work.

• Avoid drinking before driving.

• Pull over and stop when drowsiness, discomfort or loss of concentration occurs.

• Find out whether any medicine you are taking may affect your driving.

If you must drive when you aren’t at your peak performance, watch for these signs and rest when they occur:

• Heavy eyelids

• Daydreaming

• Misjudgment of traffic situations

• Varying vehicle speeds for no apparent reason

• Drifting vehicle that wanders to the road edge or over the center dividing line

• Feeling cramped and fidgety

• Continual yawning that cannot be prevented

• Rash decisions due to impatience

Once fatigue has set in SLEEP IS THE ONLY CURE.

Here at CollisionMax we have seen the auto body repair that has to be done due to tired drivers getting into auto accidents. Our best advice to tired drivers is to pull over in a safe location and get some rest instead of risking your life and others.