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Being alert and aware while driving is essential to being safe on the road. You know you need to watch the road ahead and be able to respond to changes.

You may also find that you need to drive at inconvenient times. You may be exhausted, feeling ill or on a new and unfamiliar medication. You may also feel fine when you get behind the wheel, only to find that you are suddenly unwell.

While it is uncommon, a few circumstances could lead to losing consciousness while you are on the road. Here’s what you should know about this potential problem.

Why would I lose consciousness?

Being unconscious could be temporary (as is the case when you faint) or prolonged (as in a coma). Often, a loss of consciousness occurs when your body is in disrepair and needs time to heal. A loss of consciousness is always a medical emergency and could be caused by illnesses or injuries, such as:

  • Head trauma
  • Choking
  • Low blood sugar
  • Alcohol use
  • Medications
  • Dehydration
  • Heart or nervous system problems

If you witness someone losing consciousness, you should help them get medical help right away.

Sometimes illness is unpredictable

Whether you had mild symptoms that were easy to dismiss, or your illness could present suddenly, there could be times when you suddenly lose consciousness, even if you are driving. If you lose consciousness while you are driving, it could cause a severe accident.

Knowing the signs someone might lose consciousness

While someone could suddenly lose consciousness, often, there are symptoms before it happens. You should be aware of the signs in case you see them in yourself or someone else so that you can take action to prevent an accident. You should watch for symptoms, such as:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargy
  • Drowsiness
  • Head-bobbing or struggling to stay awake

If you notice these signs, you should pull over and seek help right away. Often, these are signs of a significant health concern, and it is no longer safe to be driving.