The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seven hours of sleep every night. Going with less will only make one drowsy throughout the day, affecting behavior behind the wheel of a car. Yet in a AAA survey, nearly a third of the respondents said that they had been so tired behind the wheel at least one in the preceding 30 days that they were at the point of having drooping eyelids.
For some, the use of prescription sleep aids contributes to their drowsiness. One in five Americans who take them say that they drive within seven hours of taking them, according to a 2018 Consumer Reports survey. Most of these drugs come with the instruction that users sleep at least seven to eight hours afterwards.
Other prescription drugs that can cause drowsiness are antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, muscle relaxers and anxiety drugs. A doctor could change the dosage timing and make other adjustments to a regimen to keep patients from getting drowsy on the road. A doctor could also evaluate patients for disorders that reduce alertness like obstructive sleep apnea.
A good night’s sleep is always recommended before a long trip. During it, drivers should take a break every two hours. If their eyelids droop, they drift onto the rumble strip or they miss road signs and exits, drivers should consider a 15- to 20-minute nap on the side of the road.
Motorists who get behind the wheel when they haven’t had enough sleep could be found to be negligent and thus financially responsible for the harm sustained by occupants of other vehicles who are injured in a resulting car crash. Those victims might want to have legal help when seeking compensation for their medical bills and other losses.