Did you know that 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are the result of drowsy driving?
This adds up to an average of:
- 1,550 deaths
- 71,000 injuries
- $12 billion in financial losses
In honor of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, make sure you know how to prevent fatigue on the road.
Step 1: Know the Stats
- Driving after 18 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05.
- For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% can result in a DUI or DWI conviction nationwide.
- Lack of sleep reduces reaction time, impairs your ability to make decisions, and slows judgment.
- A moment of nodding off while driving at 60 mph is the equivalent of traveling the distance of TWO school buses.
- Skipping 1-2 hours of sleep per night doubles your risk of a car accident.
Step 2: Prevent, Prevent, Prevent!
The National Health Institute recommends a sleep schedule that includes 7-8 hours of solid rest every night. Turning off electronic devices 30 minutes – 1 hour before bedtime also helps ensure that you benefit from quality sleep. If you do have to drive after a night of restless sleep, try to avoid driving during the peak sleepiness time frames ( 4:00-6:00 a.m., 2:00-4:00 p.m., and midnight-2:00 a.m.). Even better, try to use public transportation if possible.
Step 3: Watch for Symptoms
Although you should do your best to avoid driving while fatigued, it’s important to be aware of symptoms if they do occur. Be on the lookout for:
- Heavy eyelids/frequent blinking
- Missing signs/exits
- Straying from lane
- Inability to remember the past stretch of driving (e.g. I don’t remember passing the mall...)
- Micro-sleeps (head nodding and then jolting back awake)
Step 4: Address Symptoms Immediately
If you do experience any of the symptoms listed above, try to pull off at the nearest exit. Switch drivers if possible. If not, take a 15-20 minute power nap to recharge before getting back on the road. It’s better to recharge and be late than it is to risk losing your life or injuring others. Driving drowsy also puts you at risk for being at fault in an accident – this can lead to increased premiums.
In the future, try to fix your schedule so you are getting an appropriate amount of sleep. Also check the medications you are taking. Make sure that you are not operating any vehicles if your medicine lists drowsiness as a common side effect. This Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, make a pact to stay alert on the road.
Questions? Contact us here.