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The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

drowsy driving
A Drivers Perspective: Anna

By Anna K.

What are the three things you need to survive? Food, water and sleep! Sleep? Yes sleep. Sleep as a factor for life was never really something I’ve thought about, but it does make sense. We need sleep to function. Without sleep we can’t concentrate as well, react as quickly, process information properly, and we have poor decision making skills. Sleep becomes even more of a factor for life when it comes to driving.

NHTSA estimates that drowsiness is the cause of more than 100,000 major crashes each year. 76,000 people are severely injured and 1,500 people die. So why is drowsiness the cause of so many deaths and injuries? Well, after 18 hours without sleep we drive as if we had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. Yes, driving drowsy is like driving impaired. The worst part is that these crashes can be avoided with the right amount of sleep.

Unfortunately, there may be times in our lives when we don’t get a chance to nap before we drive. In these situations, You could find yourself yawning incessantly. Your eyes could be heavy and you may have forgotten the last 15 minutes you’ve spent driving.

It’s time to change drivers. If you have another sober, licensed driver in the car, switch seats and let them drive for a while and you can take a nap. If you’re by yourself – here’s what to do:

  1. pull over in a safe location
  2. drink a caffeinated beverage (coffee, energy drinks, etc.) and
  3. immediately taking a 20 minute powernap.

You’ll be good to drive for another hour or so!

Remember - Take action as soon as you start that uncontrollable yawning. Drivers who have survived drowsy crashes say they don’t remember falling asleep. One second they were awake. The next second they were asleep. There’s no last second warning. (And frankly, the only thing that will wake you up from such ‘naps’ is hitting something like a car or a tree!)

Teens need 9 hours of sleep every night in order to function during their day. (Adult’s need 8.) If you haven’t been getting the recommended daily amount of sleep, you are more at risk. So before you drive, think about how much sleep you received last night.