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You’re packed and ready to hit the road, but are you ready for those long hours behind the wheel?

Summer vacation season not only brings out more drivers, but also more hazards. As travelers try to reach their vacation destination, many will push beyond their limits of endurance. It only takes a split second of inattention to cause a serious or fatal auto accident.

When a driver is sleepy or suffering from fatigue, their alertness, attention, reaction time, judgment and decision-making are all compromised which leads to a greater chance of crashing. Tiredness and fatigue can often affect your driving long before you ever realize that you are getting tired. Sacrificing as little as one to two hours of sleep can affect the ability to stay awake. Dozing off for only a second is long enough for your vehicle to leave the road or veer into the path of another vehicle. Even the most experienced drivers are susceptible to driver fatigue, placing it as one of the most dangerous driving behaviors that motorists can encounter on our roads.

We all want to get to our vacation destination as quick as we can. Many vacationers will try to drive through the night in order to avoid traffic congestion or to pack as much into a short time as possible. Recognizing these warning signs of fatigue and making the smart choice not to push onward can reduce the risk of a serious or fatal accident.

  • Daydreaming or finding it difficult to focus on the road ahead
  • Frequent yawning or blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Feeling fidgety, restless, or irritable
  • Unable to recall the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or finding yourself dangerously close to the road’s edge
  • Varying vehicle speed for no reason
  • Misjudging traffic situations
  • Seeing things “jump out” in the road
  • Closing eyes for brief moments or eyes going out of focus

Avoid driver fatigue on your next family road trip by following these travel safety tips:

  • Get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep the night before hitting the road.
  • Avoid driving at night or during normal sleeping hours.
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Take frequent breaks even if you are not tired. For every two hours of driving, take a 15 minute break.
  • Adjust the seat to an upright position; don’t slouch.
  • Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you alert. Although caffeine provides a temporary spike in energy, it actually reduces your energy level.
  • Eat healthy snacks every few hours to keep your energy up.
  • Do not travel in excess of 8-10 hours a day.
  • Share the driving, if possible.

Put driver safety at the top of your vacation “to do” list. Following these simple travel safety tips will not only help you avoid driver fatigue, but will go a long way towards a happy and memorable family vacation.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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