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Prevent deadly drowsy driving

Prevent deadly drowsy driving

(Cars) Permanent link

Gov​ernor Jay Inslee proclaims Nov. 1​1-17, 2013 as Washington State Drowsy Driving Prevention Week ​

Getting behind the wheel while tired or sleepy is not a crime like driving drunk. But it can be just as dangerous, and just as deadly.

In 2010, sleepy drivers killed sixteen people and seriously injured 60 more in Washington State. Nationwide, drowsy drivers cause 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year.

Experts say that after 24 hours without sleep, a driver is as impaired as if he or she were over the legal limit for alcohol.

Young drivers, aged 16-24, are the most likely group to be involved in a drowsy driving accident. Men have twice as many drowsy driving crashes as women.

Yet, anyone can find themselves driving while drowsy. More than one-third of all drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives; more than ten percent report having fallen asleep behind the wheel in just the past year. 

Besides the obvious advice to get enough sleep, what can you do to keep yourself awake if you have to be on the road. 

  • Bank it Up. If you know you are going on a big road trip or driving at night-before you hit the road, get more than enough sleep (seven to nine hours) before hand.
  • Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by driving at night or without stopping for breaks. It’s better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.
  • Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving alone for long distances. A buddy who remains awake for the journey can take a turn behind the wheel and help identify the warning signs of fatigue.
  • Take a break every 100 miles or two hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching drivers, or going for a run.
  • Take a nap - find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap, if you think you might fall asleep. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect.
  • Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
  • Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.
  • Don’t rely on stimuli from the radio and/or having the AC turned up or an open window to keep you awake.

Certain physical symptoms should alert a driver to get off the road because of his or her fatigue level. These include: constant yawning, trouble focusing visually, drifting out of your lane, suddenly realizing that you can't remember the last stretch of road traveled, or actually falling asleep and waking up after having continued to steer the car down the road. 

Governor Inslee has proclaimed November 11 -17 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. The statewide proclamation is also in concert with the National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (Nov. 3-10), sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation.

For more information on drowsy driving, go to the  National Sleep Foundation  website and the  AAA Foundation website.

Posted by Alison Dempsey-Hall Blog Moderator at 11/13/2013 04:05:29 PM | 

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