Driving while tired not only puts you at risk, but also puts others at risk as well. A study by AAA spanning 1999-2008 showed that nearly 17 percent of fatal crashes are a result of sleepy drivers, and one in eight car accidents in which someone went to the hospital was caused by an overly tired driver. The number of accidents caused by tired drivers could be much higher: more than 41 percent of drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point. Much like drugs and alcohol, being tired while driving can decrease your levels of awareness, impair your judgment, and slow your reaction time. And, again like with drugs and alcohol, people often overestimate their ability to perform while sleepy.
AAA recommends getting at least six hours of sleep the night before a long trip, and taking a break every two hours or 100 miles. Travel at times you are normally awake, and try to have a passenger with you who is also awake and alert. It can also help to drink a caffeinated beverage. Be honest with yourself. If you feel tired or sleepy, stop and take a break or even a short nap. Don’t risk your life, the lives of your family and loved ones and the lives of others by pushing the limits of your endurance.