You’ve had a busy day, you’re almost home or you’ve got just one more thing to do…but you are so tired so you are driving drowsy.
Did you know that driving drowsy is a big deal? It is if you are on the road when you are driving tired or hit by someone that was driving tired. I’m sure you don’t want to be on either side of that coin.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps track of how many drowsy driving accidents occur on our nations roadways each year. They estimate an astonishing 100,000 automobile accidents are reported to police each year resulting in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and over $12 billion in monetary losses.
You know if you’ve driven drowsy and guess what…50% of Americans admit to the same with 20% actually saying they have fallen asleep at the wheel within the last 12 months! Do you realize that means that if you are traveling a three lane highway with someone on the left and someone on the right and someone behind you that there is a good chance that two of you are drowsy? Yikes!
Maybe that driver running the red light is drowsy or maybe that driver veering into the ditch is drowsy. These are preventable incidents considering that you can choose to pull over in a safe location and have a quick 10 minute nap and proceed to your destination or take precautions before you even leave in the car.
If you are having trouble keeping your eyes open, yawning or rubbing your eyes, if your reaction time is feeling slower than normal or your losing your concentration you should not continue driving. There are several simple things you can do to help yourself:
- Get a good night’s sleep so that your internal batteries are fully charged before get into the car.
- Take a nap before you head out.
- Open your window and get some fresh air.
- Stay hydrated. Our bodies need water to function. Dehydration can often times be the cause of fatigue. Bring plenty of water with you or plan to stop and refill your supply.
- Turn the radio on and sing!
- Always wear your seatbelt because even if you are staying awake there are still the other 50% you have to watch out for.
You are most at risk for drowsy driving if you are a teenager or young adult, a shift worker, a new mom, if you have a known sleep disorders as well as those people with undiagnosed sleep disorders and jet lagged individuals or business travelers. So spread the word. Educate your family and friends. Our roads don’t need to be as dangerous as they are when people drive drowsy.
If you’d like to become a Drowsy Driving Advocate you can join the national network of advocates dedicated to raising awareness of sleep and the prevention of drowsy driving. Visit www.drowsydriving.org to learn more.