The AAA Foundation for Traffic safety has released a survey with details the warning signs of drowsy driving.
“People know that drunk driving is dangerous and [socially] unacceptable, but drowsy driving is a much more gray area. Drivers tend to underestimate its danger and overestimate their ability to deal with it,” says Bruce Hamilton of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which recently polled more than 2,300 Americans about the issue.
Hamilton says AAA researchers estimate drowsy driving plays a role in 16.5% of fatal car crashes, 13.1% of auto accidents that involve hospitalizations and 7% of incidents where vehicles require towing. He says studies have found that worn-out drivers sometimes unknowingly take “micro-sleeps,” involuntary naps that last just a few seconds but long enough for accidents to occur.
Signs he says drivers need to look for include:
• repeated yawning or difficulty keeping your head up;
• rubbing your eyes and/or finding it hard to keep your eyes open and focused on the road;
• erratic driving behavior, such as swerving, tailgating, drifting out of your lane, hitting rumble strips, missing traffic signs or missing an exit you planned to take;
• feeling irritable or restless; and
• struggling to remember the last few miles driven.
Hamilton says consumers can minimize the risk of drowsy driving by:
• getting a least seven hours of sleep the night before a long trip;
• scheduling long drives for hours when you’re normally awake anyway;
• pulling over and taking a break after every two hours or 100 miles of driving;
• having coffee or other caffeinated products and not driving for at least 30 minutes until the anti-fatigue effects kick in;
• avoiding heavy meals or medications that can make you sleepy;
• traveling with a passenger who’ll take turns behind the wheel and remain alert while you drive; and
staying somewhere overnight if necessary.
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