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Driving while drowsy or fatigued
that most drivers have
experienced or will experience
at some point.
important to keep in mind that driver fatigue isn't
to commercial drivers.
fatigue is just as much of a danger when driving
short distances as it is for driving long distances.
Anyone can experience drowsiness while behind the wheel,
especially if you've been working long hours, perform
shift work or physically demanding tasks, or are impacted
by sleep apnea.
According to the
National Sleep Foundation, about ½
of U.S. adult drivers admit to consistently getting
behind the wheel while feeling drowsy.
Never drive when fatigued.
The dangers posed when fatigued are similar to those
when intoxicated by having slowed
indicated that being awake for 18 hours is
comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration BAC of
which is legally intoxicated (twice the legal limit of
0.04% CDL drivers)
and leaves you at equal risk for a crash.
A drowsy driver moving at 70 MPH will
nearly the length of a football field if he/she falls
asleep for even 2½ seconds.
Driver fatigue takes the blame for as many as 240,000
vehicle accidents in the U.S.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
study by the AAA Foundation for
Traffic Safety estimated
that 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually.
That's more than 3 times the police-reported number.
The same study found that 109,000 of those drowsy driving
crashes resulted in an injury and about 6,400 were fatal.
A driver who nods
off at the wheel has no reactions and
If your job involves long hours of driving or a long
you may be at increased risk of fatigue at work,
including driver fatigue.
Driver fatigue may be due to a lack of adequate sleep,
extended work hours, strenuous work or non-work
activities, or a combination of other factors.
Danger signals for fatigued
* You can't stop yawning.
* You have missed your
* Not sure of where you are.
* Your speed becomes variable.
* You keep drifting out of your
* You have trouble keeping your
* You almost went through the
* You have wandering,
* You don't remember driving
the last few miles.
* Your eyes close or go out of
focus by themselves.
The most common sign of driver
fatigue is a burning or
heavy sensation in the eyes.
This is your body slowly losing the fight to stay awake
as it becomes harder and harder to keep your eyes open.
If you are at this level of driver fatigue, you need to
stop driving immediately and pull over.
This sign is the final warning before you fall
at the wheel.
If you have even one
of these symptoms, you may be in danger
of falling asleep.
important thing is to keep your eyes moving.
Opening the window for some fresh air, talking to a
or listening to some
music on the radio are
not real cures
for drowsiness and may give you a false sense of security.
Rolling the window down
or turning the radio up may
help you feel more alert for a few minutes, but these are
effective ways to maintain an acceptable level of
It also takes several
minutes for caffeine to get into your
system and deliver the energy boost you need, so if you
already tired when you first drink a caffeinated drink, it
not take effect as quickly as you might expect.
And if you are a regular caffeinated beverage drinker,
the effect may be much less.
If you are on a long driving trip, schedule a break
every 2 hrs, or every
Get out and stretch, and walk around for about
This will help keep your body alert and refreshed
while you're behind the wheel.
The safest way to combat drowsy
driving is to pull over
to a safe location and take a 10 - 20 minute nap.
and you'll enter the deeper stages of sleep,
which will make you feel groggy when you wake up and
negate the benefits of a power nap.
Upon waking, give yourself at least 15 minutes to fully
recover before getting back on the road.
Skipping meals or eating
at irregular times may lead
to fatigue and/or food cravings.
Also, going to bed with
an empty stomach or immediately
after a heavy meal can interfere with sleep.
A light snack before bed may help you achieve more
medications that may make you drowsy if you plan to
get behind the wheel.
Most drowsiness-inducing medications include a warning
label indicating that you should not operate vehicles or
machinery during use.