We are living in the age of the side hustle — or what some would call the gig economy. And while some people find it necessary to skip sleep to pack in a full day and evening of work, this can have some profound effects on your health and safety. Sleep, in particular, can take a hit. And when you work behind the wheel of a car, this can be dangerous.
About 2 million people drive for Uber as their main gig or side hustle, and many others work for Lyft or similar services. If drive for a ride share company in the evenings, you might not be getting the seven to nine hours of recommended sleep, putting yourself, passengers, and other drivers at risk.
“Drowsy driving doesn’t receive nearly the attention it deserves — in part, perhaps, because it often goes unreported and can be more difficult to pinpoint as a cause or a factor in accidents, compared to other factors such as drugs, alcohol or speeding,” according to Psychology Today. “But make no mistake: sleepy drivers are dangerous drivers.”
While the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that aggressive driving plays a role in 66% of fatal car accidents, drowsy driving is a factor in an estimated 17% of accidents. So, with about 6 million accidents occurring in the U.S. every year, sleepy drivers will cause just over 1 million accidents.
These are not odds to mess with.
This is why it’s important to understand the risks of drowsy driving and to take appropriate action in your own jobs.
How Ride Share Workers Can Avoid Sleepy Driving
The following are some simple ways that you can avoid accidents caused by sleepiness.
1. Know when to skip a night of driving. If you were short on sleep the night before and spent long hours at your day job, it may be best to skip your nighttime driving and catch up on rest. Since you can make your own schedule as a ride share driver, know when you are alert enough to get behind the wheel.
2. Prioritize sleep. No matter how many gigs you work, make sleep a priority. This could mean rearranging your schedule to get your seven to nine hours in, but it will be well worth it for your health and safety.
3. Take a power nap. When you find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open while you drive, pull off the road safely and nap for a bit. Even a quick twenty minutes to a half hour can help.
4. Avoid relying on caffeine. You may be in the habit of chugging coffee while you are driving around, but this can only keep you alert for short periods of time. And it certainly cannot replace a full night of sleep.
As a rule, if you are sleepy, do not get behind the wheel. By doing so, you can keep yourself and your passengers safe. And after you start paying attention to sleep, you might realize that driving is not the best side gig. Consider other freelance options that do not require you to operate a vehicle after a long day.