Just like drugs or alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment. Just like drugs or alcohol, it can be fatal when driving.
- Death rates based on mileage were 3.2 times higher at night than during the day in 2007.
- 37% of drivers surveyed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at some point in their driving career.
- 8% admitted doing so in the past six months
- 60% admitted falling asleep while driving on an interstate- type highway with posted speeds of 55 MPH or higher.
The drivers at highest risk are: third shift workers, people that drive a substantial number of miles each day, those with unrecognized sleep disorders, and those prescribed medication with sedatives.
Recognize the symptoms of fatigue
- Eyes closing or going out of focus
- Persistent yawning
- Irritability, restlessness, and impatience
- Wandering or disconnected thoughts
- Inability to remember driving the last few miles
- Drifting between lanes or onto shoulder
- Abnormal speed, tailgating, or failure to obey traffic signs
- Back tension, burning eyes, shallow breathing or inattentiveness
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule that allows adequate rest.
- When the signs of fatigue begin to show, get off the road. Take a short nap in a well-lit area. Do not simply stop on the side of the road.
- Avoid driving between 12am and 6am
- When planning long trips:
- Share driving responsibilities with a companion
- Begin the trip early in the day
- Keep the temperature cool in the car
- Stop every 100 miles or 2 hours to get out of the car and walk around; exercise helps to combat fatigue
- Stop for light meals and snacks
- Drive with your head up, shoulders back and legs flexed at about a 45 degree angle