Three presentations, 10-hour set-ups, and a broken coffee machine later—you finally get to go home and fall into bed. Unfortunately, you still have the 15-minute drive on 270 to get through before that dream becomes a reality. So you shake the fog out of your head, wipe the blurry out of your eyes, and slowly make your way to the on-ramp.

As you approach the merge, you keep your eyes fixed in front of you, the gently hum of the motor and vibration of the car is relaxing, so you don’t adjust your speed. Rather, you continue onto the merge as one seamless motion, only to be shocked out of your trance by a car narrowly missing you as he was forced to veer into the next lane.

What just happened? Did you really almost get into an accident because you zoned out?

Tips to Help Prevent a Drowsy Driving Accident

It is impossible to be fully awake, alert, aware and refreshed 100 percent of the time. Everyone has had days where they’re mentally and physically exhausted, but still need to get home safely. In these situations you buckle down, keep your eye on the prize—which is generally the thought to be your cozy bed—and make your way back home.

Unfortunately, many drowsy drivers never make it to their beds. Many drivers lose conscious awareness while behind the wheel and wind up veering into other cars, slamming into pedestrians, or colliding into inanimate objects—all because they were too tired to drive. Don’t sacrifice your safety, or the lives of others because you’re sleepy. Instead, follow these simple and easy to remember guidelines when you know you’ll be driving while tired.

  • Don’t do it – If you’re too tired to concentrate, you’re too tired to drive. When, and if possible, have someone else drive, call a cab, or take a short snooze before attempting to drive further.
  • Take breaks – If you start to feel groggy, pull off the road—into a parking lot or rest area—and take a break, get something to eat, and just relax until you get your concentration back.
  • Stay hydrated – Drinking water, coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages can help keep you alert, and can also break up the monotony of driving by giving your body something to do.
  • Eat foods high in protein, but low in carbs – Eating will give you energy, but try to stay away from heavy fats and carbs as they can make you sluggish.
  • Listen and sing along to music – Staying animated and giving your brain something to do can increase awareness and keep you from falling asleep.   

Although you do it every day, driving requires a unique focus and ability to react quickly in case of emergency. When you’re drowsy or tired, a momentary lapse in judgment, or a decreased response time, could cost you more than you may realize.

Help keep yourself and others driving on Maryland’s roads safe by recognizing when your incapable of driving, keeping yourself from exceeding beyond your limitations, and by sharing this article with your friends, family, and co-workers. Facebook and Twitter are excellent resources that can help promote safety—simply click the icons above to help others learn how to prevent potential drowsy driving accidents.

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