Asleep at the wheel: Combating driver fatigue

Tired drivers create dangerous situations for themselves and others on the road, leading to accidents, injuries and even fatalities. According to the National Safety Council, 37 percent of drivers have nodded off or fallen asleep at the wheel at least once since they've had their license, and 8 percent have done so in the past six months.

It can happen anytime, day or night

Driver fatigue isn't just due to lack of sleep – it can be caused by the droning of tires and engines, dull landscapes, and even the comfort of your car. It's a very real danger that can affect even the most experienced drivers. These tips from Allied can help you stay alert and safe behind the wheel.

Take precautions

Just a few proactive safe driving measures can help you avoid or even eliminate driver fatigue:

Get seven or eight hours of sleep the night before a trip

Don't start a trip late in the day, and try to avoid long drives at night, as the glare of lights both on your dashboard and outside your car increase the chances of driver hypnosis. If possible, don't take long trips alone. Passengers can take turns driving and also serve as conversation partners to keep you awake.

Adjust your car's environment so that it helps you stay alert

Keep the temperature in your car cool, with open windows or air conditioning in the summer and minimal amounts of heat in the winter. Avoid listening to soft, sleep-inducing music and switch radio stations frequently.

Don't get too comfortable

Drive with your head up, your shoulders back and your lower back against the seat back. Legs should not be fully extended, but flexed at about a 45-degree angle. Don't use cruise control; keep your body involved in the driving.

Take breaks

To be assured of safe driving, you should stop at a gas station, restaurant or rest stop every two hours. Get out of the car and walk around, or even jog or stretch. In addition to exercise breaks, stop for light meals and snacks.

Don't fight fatigue

If these or other measures fail and you start noticing the signs of fatigue, find a safe, guarded rest area, truck stop or service station and get some sleep. Even a 20-minute nap may refresh you enough to drive safely to a hotel or motel.

You can count on Allied

Because emergencies don't always happen between 9 and 5, Allied's customer service is standing by anytime day or night, every day of the year. Our claims representatives are available and ready to help whenever you need us. That's the Allied Auto Insurance difference.

Source: National Safety Council

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