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2.23.2 – While You Are Driving

Keep Cool. A hot, poorly ventilated vehicle can make you sleepy. Keep the window or vent cracked open or use the air conditioner if you have one.

Take Breaks. Short breaks can keep you alert. But the time to take them is before you feel really drowsy or tired. Stop often. Walk around and inspect your vehicle. It may help to do some physical exercises. Be sure to take a mid-afternoon break and plan to sleep between midnight and 6 a.m.

Recognize the Danger Signals of Drowsy Driving. Sleep is not voluntary. If you are drowsy, you can fall asleep and never even know it. If you are drowsy, you are likely to have “micro-sleeps,” brief naps that last around four or five seconds. At 55 miles an hour, that is over 100 yards and plenty of time for a crash.

Even if you are not aware of being drowsy, if you have a sleep debt you are still at risk. Here are a few ways to tell if you are about to fall asleep. If you experience any of these danger signs, take them as a warning that you could fall asleep without meaning to.

  • Your eyes close or go out of focus by themselves.
  • You have trouble keeping your head up.
  • You cannot stop yawning.
  • You have wandering, disconnected thoughts.
  • You do not remember driving the last few miles.
  • You drift between lanes, tailgate or miss traffic signs.
  • You keep jerking the truck back into the lane.
  • You have drifted off the road and narrowly missed crashing.

If you have even one of these symptoms, you may be in danger of falling asleep. Pull off the road in a safe place and take a nap.

2.23.3 – When You Do Become Sleepy

When you are sleepy, trying to “push on” is far more dangerous than most drivers think. It is a major cause of fatal accidents. Here are some important rules to follow:

Stop to Sleep. When your body needs sleep, sleep is the only thing that will work. If you have to make a stop anyway, make it whenever you feel the first signs of sleepiness, even if it is earlier than you planned. By getting up a little earlier the next day, you can keep on schedule without the danger of driving while you are not alert.

Take a Nap. If you cannot stop for the night, at least pull off at a safe place, such as a rest area or truck stop, and take a nap. A nap as short as a half-hour will do more to overcome fatigue than a half-hour coffee stop.

Avoid Drugs. There are no drugs that can overcome being tired. While they may keep you awake for a while, they won't make you alert. And eventually, you will be even more tired than if you had not taken them at all. Sleep is the only thing that can overcome fatigue.

Do not rely on coffee or other sources of caffeine to keep you awake. Do not count on the radio, an open window or other tricks to keep you awake.

2.23.4 – Illness

Once in a while, you may become so ill that you cannot operate a motor vehicle safely. If this happens to you, you must not drive. However, in case of an emergency, you may drive to the nearest place where you can safely stop.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #188 (1 of 1)

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It's important to recognize when you may be falling asleep. Which of the following are signs of falling asleep?

  • Your eyes close or go out of focus by themselves
  • You have wandering, disconnected thoughts
  • All of these are common signs of falling asleep
  • You drift between lanes, tailgate or miss traffic signs

Even if you are not aware of being drowsy, if you have a sleep debt you are still at risk. Here are a few ways to tell if you are about to fall asleep. If you experience any of these danger signs, take them as a warning that you could fall asleep without meaning to.

  • Your eyes close or go out of focus by themselves.
  • You have trouble keeping your head up.
  • You cannot stop yawning.
  • You have wandering, disconnected thoughts.
  • You do not remember driving the last few miles.
  • You drift between lanes, tailgate or miss traffic signs.
  • You keep jerking the truck back into the lane.
  • You have drifted off the road and narrowly missed crashing.
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