Sleepy driving is a dangerous situation that can lead to fatal consequences.
Many times, drivers who fall asleep on the roads aren’t even aware that they’ve fallen asleep.
Closing your eyes for just four or five seconds may seem like a very short time.
If you’re travelling at about 10km/h, you won’t go very far.
However, the fact is that when you doze off, you’re normally going at expressway speeds – 80 or 90km/h.
Even with your eyes closed for just a few seconds, you would have travelled a long distance in those few moments.
Sleepy driving isn’t as prevalent in Singapore as it is overseas, where roads are longer and less well-lit than our mostly-urban environment.
However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Sleepy driving: when and how does it occur?
Sleepy driving can happen any time of the day whenever you’re feeling tired.
However, it occurs most frequently during certain periods in our body’s Circadian rhythm – our “body clock”.
Late night and early morning are two periods of the day likely to see drivers dozing off at the wheel.
That’s because our body clock automatically assumes we are sleeping at those points of the day, and slows some of our bodily functions down.
If you’re a shift worker, or someone who constantly does overtime, the chances of you falling asleep at the wheel could be greater.
How can we prevent it?
First, get sufficient rest before going on the road.
This is especially important if you drive for a living, like as a delivery or private-hire driver.
How much sleep is as important as what kind of sleep quality you are getting, so make sure you reduce the number of disturbances at night as best as possible.
Try not to drive between 12am and 6am. This period is especially dangerous.
Also, never drive under the influence of medication that induces drowsiness, like cough syrup or certain antihistamines.
If you’re already on the road and you feel sleepy, the first thing to do is slow down, which gives you more reaction time.
Activate your car’s safety systems if available, like lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.
If you can, try to pull over on the shoulder and wake yourself up. If necessary, close your eyes and rest for a bit.
Blasting music or the air-conditioner will not be effective.