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Tips on preventing driver fatigue

Old wives' tales about how to avoid fatigued driving abound. Some people in New Orleans may think a caffeinated drink, loud music or fresh air will keep them alert enough to drive, even if they are tired. Unfortunately, these methods are no match against extreme fatigue, and drivers who try to rely on them to stay alert behind the wheel may cause a car accident due to drowsy driving.

Drivers need to make sure that before they start operating their motor vehicle, that they get enough shut-eye prior to hitting the road. People are naturally sleepy from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., and then from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. People should try to avoid driving during these times if possible.

Drivers should also make sure they have a healthy diet. If they skip a meal or eat at a time that they don't usually eat, this could make them drowsy. Moreover, if a person falls asleep with an empty stomach or conversely after a large meal, it can affect the quality of their sleep.

If a person is starting to feel fatigued while driving, it is perfectly ok or even advisable to pull into a safe place and take a 45-minute nap. A nap is more likely to help a person avoid drowsy driving than a caffeinated drink is. After napping, a person should give themselves at least 15 minutes to wake up before hitting the road.

In addition, certain medications -- both prescription and over-the-counter -- can cause tiredness. People should avoid getting behind the wheel of a car if they take a medication that makes them drowsy. Even something as seemingly-benign as a allergy pill has the potential to make a person sleepy.

In the end, all motorists need to recognize that a drowsy driver is a dangerous driver. A drowsy driver has the potential to fall asleep while behind the wheel, which could lead to a catastrophic accident. Therefore, it is up to everyone who drives a car to recognize driver fatigue, and act accordingly.

Source: FMCSA, "CMV Driving Tips - Driver Fatigue," Accessed April 11, 2017

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