Drowsy driving is responsible for over 300,000 accidents every year. Drowsy driving occurs when a sleep-deprived driver gets behind the wheel and is unable to focus on the road in front of them. As a result, many of these drivers end up in collisions that result in terrible injuries and deaths. The National Sleep Foundation wants to put a stop to drowsy driving accidents by raising awareness during Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
What is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week?
The NSF declared the week of November 5-12, 2017 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. During this week, the organization will focus on discussing the dangers of drowsy driving and what can be done to stop it.
Drowsy driving often takes a backseat to drunk driving, distracted driving, and other accident causes in terms of raising awareness. However, multiple studies have shown that it can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and should be taken seriously. In fact, being awake for 24 hours straight is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration of .10, which is over the legal limit of .08.
Most people know that falling asleep behind the wheel or losing focus while driving due to sleep deprivation is a bad thing. Yet sadly, many people continue to drive while tired. According to a study by AAA, 60 percent of United States adults reported driving while fatigued, and one-third of the people surveyed reported having fallen asleep at the wheel.
How Do I Know If I’m Fatigued?
There are many symptoms to watch for to make sure you are not too tired to drive. Some of these symptoms include:
- Excessive blinking
- Veering off the road or into other lanes of traffic
- Hitting a rumble strip
- “Spacing out” while driving or having difficulty remembering the last few miles
What Should I Do To Prevent Drowsy Driving?
If you notice one or more of the symptoms listed above, chances are you are too tired to drive. In such cases, there are steps you can take to ensure that you reach your destination safely. Some of these steps include:
- Take a break. Find a safe place to pull over and take a 15- to 20-minute nap.
- Drink something with caffeine in it to help you stay alert.
- Switch drivers, if you have passengers who are alert and able to drive.
While you should take the measures above to recognize fatigued driving and stop it right away, preventing fatigued driving ultimately starts at home, before the trip starts. Some steps you can take include:
- Get 7-9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.
- Seek medical attention for sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, and other sleep-related medical conditions.
- Avoid driving during times when you would normally be asleep. For example, if you work the night shift and sleep from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., you should avoid driving between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
With thousands of drowsy driving related fatalities and Americans sleeping less and less, it is more important than ever that we raise awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving.