Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

(BINGHAMTON, NY) – Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is a National Sleep Foundation public awareness campaign to educate drivers about sleep safety.  This time of year leaves us especially vulnerable to drowsiness with Daylight Saving Time ending.  Even the smallest change in sleep patterns can put drivers at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 crashes each year.  Sleepiness can impair drivers by causing slower reaction times, vision impairment, lapses in judgment, and delays in processing information.  Studies show that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, the legal limit in all states.  Drowsy driving crashes can literally happen in the blink of an eye.  It is possible to fall into a 3-4 second micro sleep without realizing it. Anyone who drives is at risk of falling asleep at the wheel but some groups are more at risk than others. Young driver, shift workers, commercial drivers, business travelers and people with untreated sleep disorders are more likely to drive tired. 

The following warning signs indicate that it's time to stop driving and find a safe place to pull over:
  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids
  • Difficulty keeping daydreams at bay
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven
  • Missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive
Preventing a Fall-Asleep Crash:
  • Get a good night's sleep before a long drive.
  • Get off the road if you notice any of the warning signs of fatigue.
  • Take a nap - find a safe place to take a 15-20 minute nap.
  • Consume caffeine that's equivalent to 2 cups of coffee.  But remember the effects of caffeine are short-lived.
  • Drive with a friend.  A passenger who remains awake can help watch for signs of fatigue in the driver and can take a turn driving, if necessary.
  • Avoid alcohol and medication that can cause drowsiness.

When we drive, we take responsibility for our own safety and the safety of others on the road with us.  No trip is worth a life.  Before you hit the road, keep these tips in mind so that you can drive alert and arrive alive. 

11/02/2011 - 10:17am