Drowsy driving doesn't get as much attention as drunk or distracted driving. But a recent study by AAA blamed drowsiness as a factor in nearly 10 percent of all crashes, so it's clearly nothing to snooze at. Fortunately, today's cars increasingly offer features to intuit driver fatigue and alert you to take a break.
So-called attention alert systems monitor various parameters, like steering inputs, to intuit when you might be tired. They generally alert you with instrument panel messages and warning chimes to pull over and get some rest — and maybe some coffee, too.
Other technologies can help deter fatigue by easing the overall difficulty of driving. Adaptive cruise control can modify your speed to stay a selectable distance behind the car ahead without you touching the accelerator or brakes. Lane-keeping steering uses cameras to spot lane markings and nudge the steering wheel to keep you between them and alert you with warning chimes or vibrations if you start to stray across.
Such technology makes driving less taxing, but for some drivers, less involvement might actually lead to more drowsiness.
In any case, we can get behind AAA's recommendations to fend off that fender fatigue.
The agency recommends avoiding heavy foods or medication before you get behind the wheel, taking breaks over longer trips and driving during daylight hours.
We'll add one more tip: Turn off that laptop, phone or TV when you're in bed the night before driving so you can prioritize sleep time over screen time. That even goes if you're watching your favorite Driving Smart segment. Rest assured — we'll still be here tomorrow.
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