November 8, 2017

Drowsy Driving: Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drowsy

“Don’t drink and drive.” “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” We know the dangers of drunk driving. We have heard the anti-drunk driving campaigns and have tested simulation effects of intoxication while walking in a straight line. However, many people do not know that the dangers of drowsy driving are comparable to those of drunk driving.

According to a 2014 AAA Traffic Safety Foundation study,  37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives. Twenty-one percent of fatal crashes have involved a drowsy driver. Additionally, drivers who sleep for 4-5 hours compared to seven hours produce the same risks associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration level equal to or slight above the legal limit for alcohol in the United States.

As you’re leaving work and feeling slightly tired, you may not know that you are putting yourself and others at risk. However, key warning signs to alert you that you are too tired to drive include:

Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or head up

Yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly

Daydreaming and wandering thoughts

Drifting from one lane to the next, tailgating and missing signs or exits

Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive

Turning up the radio or rolling the window down

Slow reaction time and poor judgement

You may have heard that if you feel sleepy behind the wheel, turn up the radio or roll down your window. These tricks won’t work – nothing can replace a good night sleep. If you experience any of these warning signs, pull over to a safe place and take a short 15-20 minute nap or consume caffeine. However, the effects of caffeine only last so long. If you are driving for an extended period of time, it is best to pull over and rest.

Many of us know friends, family or colleagues who have trouble sleeping, may stay up late or work through the night. Advise them of the effects of drowsy driving – you may be saving their lives.

This summary is for general informational use only and may not include all relevant information.