Fatigue Shift work

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week set for Nov. 3-10

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Photo: National Sleep Foundation

Washington — The National Sleep Foundation is stressing the importance of being alert and well-rested behind the wheel, as road safety advocates prepare to recognize Drowsy Driving Prevention Week Nov. 3-10.

Sleep-deprived drivers contribute to more than 6,400 deaths a year in the United States, according to the foundation, which provides drowsy driving prevention resources such as infographics and videos on the campaign’s website. Although all drivers are at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, NSF identifies certain groups that are at higher risk: young drivers, shift workers and people working long hours, commercial motor vehicle drivers, drivers with untreated sleep disorders, and business travelers.

Results of an Atomik Research survey conducted in September and commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine show that 45% of adults have struggled to remain awake while driving. Researchers surveyed 2,003 adults and found that drowsy driving affects all generations. Forty-eight percent of the respondents categorized in Generation X admitted to experiencing drowsiness behind the wheel, followed by millennials (47%), baby boomers (44%) and Generation Z (35%) – the youngest of the demographics.

AASM urges motorists to be aware of these symptoms of drowsy driving:

  • Frequent yawning or difficulty keeping eyes open
  • “Nodding off,” or having trouble keeping your head up
  • Inability to recall driving the past few miles
  • Missing road signs or turns
  • Difficulty maintaining your speed
  • Drifting out of your lane

“The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to ensure you are getting enough healthy sleep on a regular basis,” AASM President Kelly Carden said in an email to Safety+Health. “Thousands of unnecessary deaths occur each year due to drowsy driving. Help keep yourself and others safe by prioritizing sleep to avoid driving drowsy.”

 

NSF recommends drivers get a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel and refrain from operating a vehicle when feeling drowsy or taking a medication that may cause drowsiness. Other tips:

  • Pull off the road if you experience any signs of drowsiness.
  • Drive with a friend or family member and take turns driving, if necessary.
  • If needed, find a safe location to take a 15- to 20-minute nap.
  • Don’t drive at times when you usually would be sleeping.

For more information on safe driving, go to nsc.org/road-safety.

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