We are right in the middle of the holiday season, which for many Virginia residents means holiday travel. If you are getting ready to take a road trip, it is not only bad weather you should be aware of. Drowsy driving is responsible for more accidents than you may have expected. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warn that sleep-related accidents reportedly cause more than 72,000 accidents every year. In 2013, 800 fatalities and 44,000 injuries were attributed to drowsy driving. Authorities believe the numbers may be much higher, because after an accident it can be difficult to determine if a driver was sleepy or nodded off at the wheel. How can you avoid a drowsy driving accident, you may wonder? The following tips may help: 

  • Never rely on short-term fixes to keep you awake, such as caffeine, running the air conditioner or listening to loud music. 
  • Make sure to get a full night’s sleep the night before your trip. 
  • If possible, take someone with you who can take turns driving while the other one rests. 
  • Set a time, such as every hour on the road, to pull over and stretch your legs. 
  • Address any sleep problems with your doctor. 
  • Never get behind the wheel after taking medication that causes drowsiness, including antihistamines or cold medicine. 

It can also help to be aware of the signs someone else may be drowsy behind the wheel. If you see a driver drifting between lanes, driving too slowly or otherwise seeming inattentive, give the other driver a wide berth. For your safety, as well as others on the road, you may consider calling 911 if the other driver’s behavior remains consistent or gets worse. This information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.