Asleep at the Wheel

Autobahn road sign

‚ÄčThe Autobahn: No speed limits, no sleep limits.

We’ve all fallen asleep at times when we weren’t supposed to. Maybe you dozed off during a professor’s endless lecture, you hit the snooze button one too many times on Monday morning or you realized that your work computer’s keyboard makes a decent pillow. These poorly timed naps can get you in serious trouble, especially if you find yourself catching some Z’s while driving. It’s never something we do on purpose, but falling asleep at the wheel can happen to anyone. And Ian, LendingTree Autos’ national sales manager, can attest to that — well, sort of.

Before Ian moved to the United States, he lived in Germany and would drive to and from work on the Autobahn — every car lover’s dream, right?

“I had a Toyota Celica GTS at the time. It was definitely a lot of fun to drive over there,” he recalled. But the infamous absence of speed limits isn’t the only feature that makes the Autobahn the ultimate place to drive.

“Many people don’t know this, but the Autobahn has multiple rest areas where you can pull off the road and take a break from driving,” Ian said. “You can get something to eat and enjoy the scenic views, too.”

“One evening I was tired after work, so I decided to pull over,” he said. “Without meaning to, I dozed off.” Little did Ian know, he was about to get the surprise of his life — and a scare that would prevent him from sleeping in his car ever again.

Ian woke up from his nap in a drowsy haze, not quite knowing where he was. The first (and only) thing he noticed was a huge metal guard rail right in front of him, and he seemed to be heading towards it at full speed. He lunged forward, white knuckles clutching the the steering wheel, and slammed his foot on the brake with full force. Time seemed to freeze and everything was moving in slow motion — really, really slow motion. Actually, nothing was moving at all. 

“I kept waiting for the crash, but nothing happened. That’s when I looked down and finally realized that the car wasn’t on,” he laughed. “It was not a great way to wake up.”

So even though Ian never really fell asleep while driving, he can tell you firsthand that it’s not an experience you want to have. To protect yourself from guard rails and drowsy drivers alike, make sure you're aware of your surroundings when driving at night.

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