How can I avoid driver fatigue on my upcoming road trip?

Drowsy driving accidents are responsible for a significant number of injuries and fatalities every year.

Many people in New York have found themselves in this situation: You get in the car after a long day, facing a lengthy commute. There is a lot of traffic, and you spend much longer behind the wheel than you intended to. As a result, your eyes start to feel heavy, and you can feel yourself nodding off.

If it has not happened on a commute, then it likely has happened on a long road trip. The majority of adults - 60 percent - say they have felt drowsy while driving at some point in the last year, according to the National Sleep Foundation. So how can you avoid getting into trouble? By following these tips:

Get plenty of sleep

True, this is easier said than done, but getting enough sleep prevents people from suffering exhaustion while driving. Experts recommend getting somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep at night. Some tips for doing so include the following:

  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day
  • Limit caffeine
  • Avoid eating big meals before going to sleep

While it may be tempting to sleep in on weekends, this disturbs the internal clock in the body. Instead, try to maintain a normal sleep cycle.

Know the risk

Simply knowing whether or not you are at risk of drowsy driving is key to prevention. The NSF states that people who work night shifts or double shifts are six times more likely to experience a drowsy driving-related accident. Commercial drivers, business travelers and young drivers are also at a higher risk of these incidents.

Recognize the signs

As soon as the signs of drowsiness set in, drivers should pull over to a safe place until they are prepared to drive again. Obvious signs include yawning, rubbing the eyes and having trouble focusing. However, excessive daydreaming or an inability to recall the last few miles driven are also warning signs, as are experiencing a slower reaction time or drifting in and out of lanes.

Avoid alcohol and certain medications

Clearly, people should not drink alcohol and then drive. However, certain medications could also have the same effect as alcohol, causing drowsiness or foggy thinking. People should read the label of all medications to take note of possible side effects.

It should also be noted that drinking alcohol close to bedtime could impair someone's ability to get a good night's sleep. This, of course, could have an effect on the person's ability to drive without feeling drowsy the next day.

Paying attention to the signs and taking the right measures increase the likelihood of a safe trip. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in New York.