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Driver Fatigue on Long Road Trips & How to Avoid It

Driver Fatigue on Long Road Trips & How to Avoid It

Nothing says a summer vacation in America quite like a road trip. With the coronavirus pandemic making air travel a little too risky for most people’s likings, going on a road trip is more appealing than ever before. But before you hit the road for hours on end to see the sights, you should first learn about the dangers of fatigued driving and how to avoid them.

Fatigued Driving Increases Your Risk of an Accident

There are no two ways about it: Driving while tired increases your risk of causing or getting caught in a car accident. Many safety organizations like the National Safety Council (NSC) have found that driving while sleep-deprived can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Exhaustion affects your mind very much as alcohol does.

When you drive while fatigued, you run the risk of:

  • Taking much longer to react to the world around you, possibly causing a rear-end accident at a stop sign or red-light intersection.
  • Swerving in and out of your lane as you struggle to drive in a straight line.
  • Exceeding the speed limit without realizing it due to mental fog.
  • Falling asleep behind the wheel.

Keep in mind that you won’t be the only one on a road trip, either. Other drivers around you could likely be doing the same thing. They might be risking driving while exhausted, too.

How to Avoid Driver Fatigue

Remember these tips to avoid driver fatigue and related car accidents:

  • Limit driving time: You probably have a general sense of how long you can drive before you start feeling tired, but you should not test your limits for your road trip. It is generally accepted that 8 hours of driving in a single day is the top limit anyone can drive before becoming dangerously tired. Eyestrain after paying close attention to the road for 8 hours can also become unbearable and make you want to close your eyes. Plan your route to have a stopping point every 8 hours of driving, which will take you approximately 500 miles a day when factoring breaks.
  • Take rest stops: Speaking of taking a break from driving, take the chance to rest when driving across the country. Treat your drive like you would your work and use 15-minute breaks every 2 hours. Take breaks more often if it helps you stay alert and focused. Along major highways, you can often find public rest stops with restrooms and vending machines for food.
  • Eat and drink normally: And speaking of food at rest stops, you should eat and drink throughout your drive as you would any other day. Do not eat or drink less as a way to try to avoid bathroom breaks. When you are thirsty and hungry, your concentration will be split between the road and your appetite. Pack some snacks and water bottles to enjoy while at rest stops. Remember to not eat while driving, as this behavior can also cause a car accident.
  • Assign a backup driver: If there is another adult with a driver’s license coming along for your road trip, talk to them before you depart about using them as a backup driver in case you get too tired to continue but have not reached your night’s destination yet. They will probably be thankful for the chance to drive after watching the horizon for hours. You can even switch between drivers throughout the day, such as at every rest stop.
  • Look for out-of-state plates: Lastly, to avoid other fatigued drivers, keep an eye open for out-of-state plates. Visitors from other states are more likely to be on a road trip, just like you are. If you see an out-of-state plate, see if you can give them more space on the road than normal.

Our family at Morgan & Murphy, LLP in New Bedford send positive wishes to you and yours this summer. May your road trip be as fun as you planned and even safer! If you do need our help after being in a crash in Massachusetts, call (508) 966-7254 at any time. One of our accident attorneys can discuss the key details of your case during a free initial consultation.

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