Drowsy driving is deadly driving

By Brittany McLeod
November 15, 2007

The week of Nov. 5-11 launched the first annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week sponsored by The National Sleep Foundation.

The week promoted a national campaign to save the lives of young drivers by raising awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving and provided resources for advocacy at the state level.

What is drowsy driving? Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous combination.

Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving but don’t realize that drowsy driving can be just as fatal. Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of crashing.

According to the NSF, 37 percent of respondents to a Sleep America poll, representing 103 million U.S. residents, reported that they had fallen asleep while driving during the preceding year.

Even 47.1 percent of experienced long-distance truck drivers reported that they had fallen asleep while driving a truck at some time during their lives.

Have you ever been close to falling asleep at the wheel? Maybe actually took a quick nap while cruising down the highway?

Personally, I don’t even have my license but I know that I wouldn’t take a chance on driving drowsy.

Knowing that the dangers are quite similar to drunk driving, drowsy driving is not something I could pull off or want to pull off.

I am aware that there are different situations that drivers are put in, perhaps a long drive down to the shore or a trip home from a friend’s house late one night but if for a split second your eyes shut at the wheel it could mean catastrophe.

I’ve been in situations with a friend when they’re extremely tired and I have to wake myself up to keep them busy.

Blasting the radio, putting the windows down, singing and screaming have all been solutions to heavy eyelids while driving and while they sometimes work, there is not always the willing passenger to aid you in your drowsy driving.

A good way to keep from drowsy driving is to always plan ahead for a long drive and try to bring a friend along who can switch with you so both of you can sleep if necessary.

A short drive in which you become tired is hard to plan for but if you feel yourself becoming drowsy, sometimes it’s best to pull over and collect yourself to make sure you are capable of continuing.

Maybe even call a friend to come help you home. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

In some crashes, it is hard to tell if it is a result of drowsy driving but National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data indicate that in recent years there have been about 56,000 crashes annually in which driver drowsiness and fatigue were cited by police.

Annual averages of roughly 40,000 nonfatal injuries and 1,550 fatalities result from these crashes.

Always remember, drowsy driving is deadly driving.

Brittany McLeod

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