Can you avoid drowsy drivers?

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When Texans operate a vehicle without proper sleep, they endanger other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Like drinking and driving, texting, changing radio stations and other distracted driving behaviors, drowsy drivers have delayed reaction times and erratic actions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that drowsy drivers caused 72,000 car accidents and 800 deaths in just a one-year span. While you may safely avoid driving while tired, you are still vulnerable to other drowsy drivers on the road. Can Texans avoid drowsy drivers?

Know when drowsy drivers are most prevalent

While drowsy drivers may be on the road at any time, some times have a greater concentration of these drivers. Try to avoid driving late at night and early in the morning. People are usually less aware during these periods and more likely to make mistakes.

Recognize the signs

Learn common outward signs of tired drivers. If you can recognize the drowsy drivers on the road, you can give them more space so you have a better chance of safely navigating a dangerous situation. Many tired drivers:

  • Drift in and out of their lane
  • Hit the rumble strip
  • Drop their head as they nod in and out of sleep
  • Fail to brake at red lights and stop signs
  • Display delayed reactions to traffic conditions
  • Over-correct mistakes
  • Have trouble maintaining a constant speed

While it can be difficult to look at a car’s driver, you may be able to see them in their review mirror or through a side window. If you can see them, evaluate their body language for signs of exhaustion or nodding off to sleep.

What should you do?

Avoid drowsy drivers. Increase the distance between your car and theirs. Pull off at a rest stop if you are struggling to give erratic drivers adequate space.

If a driver exhibits unacceptably dangerous driving behaviors and you are concerned that they could fall asleep at the wheel, you may consider alerting authorities to their unsafe actions.

Overall, your best chances of safety come from remaining alert to road conditions and the other drivers around you.

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