Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

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.

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