We hear a lot about the effects that alcohol and drugs have on driving and fatal car accidents. However, a lesser known threat are people who drive under the influence of sleepiness. According to a survey (Asleep at the Wheel) conducted by the AAA foundation in 2010, one in every six fatal accidents involved a drowsy driver. This week is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (November 6-12) and the AAA and other safe driving advocates are promoting awareness about drowsy driving.
In addition to fatal accidents, drowsy driving also was to blame for 13% of automobile accidents resulting in a hospitalization and 7% of accidents where a vehicle needed to be towed.
Those at a higher risk for driving drowsy are young drivers (under the age of 24) and men. According to the AAA study, 52% of men reported falling asleep behind the wheel while only 30% of women reported ever doing so. Likewise, younger drivers reported falling asleep behind the wheel more than any other age group.
How do you know if you’re driving drowsy?
You may be too sleepy to drive if:
- Your eyes feel heavy and difficult to keep open.
- You find yourself drifting from lane to lane or over the rumble strips on the highway.
- You have difficulty remembering the last few miles you drove.
What to do:
Tips from the AAA foundation:
- Before a road trip make sure to get a solid 7 hours of sleep before getting on the road.
- If you find yourself driving drowsy pull over immediately.
- Drink a caffeinated beverage.
- Schedule a break every 100 miles or 2 hours.
- Travel with an alert passenger
- Avoid driving at times when you are normally asleep.
Avoiding drowsy driving is just one more way to practice safe driving. Remember that claims-free and violation-free drivers often qualify for the best auto insurance rates.