Drowsy Driving Can Be Deadly: Take a Break. Drive Awake.
This has probably happened to many students. They are driving on a long trip, traveling alone or at night or perhaps just off from a long shift at work and the yawning starts. The eyes begin to get heavy, the road seems to go on forever and before they know it the vehicle veers. They have just entered a danger zone.
Drowsy driving is estimated to contribute to as many as 1.2 million collisions, resulting in potentially 5,000 to 8,000 fatalities per year (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). However, despite these risks, experts agree that drowsy driving is far too prevalent.
Research shows that nearly a third of drivers admitted to driving within the prior thirty days when they were so tired that they had trouble keeping their eyes open. This lack of sleep slows reaction time, impairs judgment and increases the risk of dozing off while driving (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
Student Health Promotion is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind all drivers to always be well rested before they get behind the wheel.
Getting good sleep on a regular basis is the best defense against drowsy driving. Students who do find themselves driving while drowsy, Take a Break. Drive Awake. to help reduce the risks of drowsy driving.
Every driver should know the warning signs and how to avoid drowsy driving. Having trouble keeping their head up, nodding off, veering into another lane or onto the rumble strip and frequent yawning are all signals that someone is too drowsy to drive safely.
Here are some tips for staying awake and safe while on the road:
- Sleep is the best remedy. Rolling down the windows, turning up the radio or drinking a caffeinated beverage are not enough to stave off drowsiness.
- If someone is drowsy while behind the wheel, they should find a safe, legal place off the roadway to take a quick nap.
- Take a break to recharge with exercise. Physical activity such as a brisk walk or moving around offers a natural boost of energy.
- On long trips, schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to stretch and move around.
- Try not to drive alone on long trips. A driver accompanied by a passenger is nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a drowsy-driving related crash (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
- Everyone should aim for seven or more hours of sleep every night to ensure they are ready to get behind the wheel. Drivers who sleep less than five hours per night are six times more likely to be involved in a drowsy-driving-related crash than drivers who get eight or more hours of sleep.
Students should take these simple steps to protect themselves and others by always being well rested before they get behind the wheel. Students should never risk driving when they are drowsy. Take a Break. Drive Awake. It may just save a life.
For more information visit Traffic Safety.