November 3, 2015

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but don’t realize that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous.

That’s why the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 1-8, 2015 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

An Australian study shows staying awake for 24 hours is the equivalent of driving impaired with a .10 blood alcohol level, which is actually illegal.

“Being up for 24 hours can actually slow your reaction time, it impairs your judgement, all of the things that we rely on to drive safely, it impairs it,” said Jamie Dolan, regional coordinator for the Office of Highway Safety Planning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in property damage.

These estimates are probably conservative, though, and up to 5,000 or 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.

So what are some tips to stay awake if you find yourself dozing behind the wheel?

One driver said he turns down the heat.

“The car heater, when it’s directly blowing in your face, actually makes you want to sleep more, so I try to turn that off and just have the car cold when I’m driving if I’m starting to get tired,” said Noah Peterson.

Also beware of side effects from medications.

“Really anything that you take, especially if it’s touted for cough and cold, can cause some drowsiness,” said Pharmacist Tyler Jenema.

“The biggest thing that you can do is to be aware of how your lack of sleep affects you,” said Dolan.

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