Drowsy Driving a Dangerous Yet Preventable Hazard for Holiday Drivers

AMERICA'S highways will soon be bumper to bumper with road-tripping vacationers eager to enjoy their favorite Memorial Day vacation spots. Sadly, many drivers will hit the road without having had enough sleep, oblivious to the dangers of drowsy driving. Since Memorial Day kicks off the beginning of the summer vacation season, which according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the deadliest time of year for drivers, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reminds the public to stay alert at the wheel and beware of other sleepy drivers in order to arrive at their destinations safely.

"Many people fail to realize just how much sleep impacts alertness on the roadways. Not getting a good night's sleep and driving can have deadly consequences," said Richard Gelula, NSF's chief executive officer. "In fact, drowsy driving may be just as dangerous as drunk driving because sleepiness results in slower reaction times and performance; reduced judgment and vision; delayed information processing and short term memory formation; and even increased anger and moodiness."

According to NHTSA, driver fatigue is the direct cause of 100,000 car crashes each year, and the results are both deadly and costly: NHTSA estimates 1,550 deaths; 71,000 injuries; and $12.5 billion in diminished productivity and property loss. Researchers believe that these numbers are underestimated, given that an estimated 1 million crashes are produced by driver inattention -- a side effect of fatigue.

Drowsy driving is an all too common danger on America's roadways. Those who claim that they have never operated a vehicle while feeling drowsy are in the minority, as NSF's 2005 Sleep in America Poll showed that 60 percent of adults had done so in the past year. Furthermore, one out of five drivers report having actually fallen asleep while driving; that's 32 million people.

"Drowsy driving risks the life of not only the driver, but the lives of their passengers -- family and friends -- and other drivers on the road," Gelula said. "The disastrous effects of fatigue-related crashes can easily be prevented; all it takes is for people to recognize the problem and get off the road."

Are you feeling sleepy? Pull Over. Though you may be alert when you first begin your drive, drowsiness may soon set in. Trying to beat traffic or arrive at your destination early by driving while sleepy puts you and other motorists at risk. The following warning signs indicate that it's time pull over and stop driving:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids.
  • Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips.
  • Yawning repeatedly.
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven.
  • Missing exits or traffic signs.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.

Here are some tips for avoiding a crash caused by drowsiness during Memorial Day weekend and year round:

  • Get a good night's sleep before you hit the road. You’ll want to be alert for the drive and for your vacation, so get to sleep early the night before you go.
  • Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by driving all night or without stopping for breaks. However, crashes caused by sleepiness are among the most deadly. It's better to allow the time, 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.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications (over-the-counter and prescribed) that may impair driving performance and magnify the effects of sleepiness.
  • Avoid driving at times when you would normally be sleeping.
For more information, visit http://www.sleepfoundation.org.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Schedule and Record Observations

    IndustrySafe's Observations module allows managers, supervisors, and employees to conduct observations on employees involved in safety critical behavior. IndustrySafe’s pre-built BBS checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to Safety Training

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common FAQs.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - May 2019

    May 2019

    Featuring:

    • RESPIRATORY PROTECTION
      Why Pick a PAPR? 
    • FIRE SAFETY TRAINING
      Fire Safety: Plan, Prevent, Train, Recover
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      The Truth About Heat Stress and FRC
    • AIHCE EXP 2019 PREVIEW
      Underestimated No More
    View This Issue