How many fatal accidents are caused by drowsy driving each year?
We’ve all been taught about the dangers of driving under the influence, whether that influence is alcohol or medications that can incapacitate you. One influence you might not have thought of is one that affects every aspect of our lives — sleep.
Driving drowsy can incapacitate you in the same ways that driving drunk can, and can add to the 90 people who die on a daily basis in the United States in car wrecks.
Nearly 35 percent of Americans get less than the minimum recommendation of 7 hours of sleep a night, according to the CDC.
If you pull an all-nighter, it can cause you to drive as if you have a blood alcohol level around .10 percent – higher than the legal amount for alcohol.
Who is most likely to drive drowsy?
A CDC study found that men are more likely to drive drowsy than women. People between the age of 18 and 44 had a markedly higher rate of reporting driving drowsy than people 65 or older.
It also found that shift workers and commercial drivers were more likely to drive drowsy, due to the changing nature of their commutes and long hours.
People who snore were also more likely to report drowsy driving.
What happens when you drive drowsy?
Drowsy driving causes drivers to pay less attention to the road, slows their reaction time and affects their ability to make good decisions.
Recent research from a National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation study showed that 34 percent of crashes that involved drifting between lanes on the road involved incapacitated drivers — half of which were attributed to sleeping or drowsiness. The other half were influenced by illnesses or drugs or alcohol.
How can you avoid driving drowsy?
Well, the best answer would be to get more sleep. Figure out what’s causing you to get a poor night’s sleep and do what you can to change it, whether that’s sleeping on the wrong kind of mattress or an untreated sleep disorder.
For those who that isn’t an option for, caffeine and/or short naps before driving can be incredibly helpful.
Napping was found to be more effective for younger drivers, while coffee was more effective for older ones.
If you can do both, studies show that combining a cup of coffee and a short nap actually increases the effectiveness of both — maximizing how well-rested you feel and keeping the drivers around you safe on the road.
If you know you’ll be making a long drive, it’s recommended that you have a driving buddy to trade off and keep you more focused.
If you know you’ll be along making a long drives, when you notice yourself blinking more often than usual, or losing memory of the last few miles you’ve driven, pull over. Find somewhere off the road, like a gas station or truck stop, and take a quick nap.
Post Courtesy of Tuck Sleep. Check out Tuck Sleep for more information about the Tuck community, which is devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.