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Driving while drowsy or fatigued is something
that most drivers
have experienced or will experience
at some point.

It's important to keep in mind that driver fatigue isn't limited
to commercial drivers.

Driver 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
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 reactions and
impaired judgment.

Research has indicated that being awake for 18 hours is
comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration BAC of 0.08%,
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 travel
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 motor
vehicle accidents in the U.S. annually.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

A 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 n
ods off at the wheel has no reactions and
no judgment.

If your job involves long hours of driving or a long commute,
you may be at i
ncreased 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 drivers:

* You can't stop yawning.

* You have missed your exit.

* Not sure of where you are.

* Your speed becomes variable.

* You keep drifting out of your lane.

* You have trouble keeping your head up.

* You almost went through the red light.

* You have wandering, disconnected thoughts.

* You don't rem
ember 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 asleep
at the wheel.

If you have even one of these symptoms, you may be in danger
of falling

Drive alert -

The important thing is to keep your eyes moving.

Opening the wind
ow for some fresh air, talking to a passenger,
or listening to som
e 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 not
effective ways to maintain an acceptable level of alertness.

It also takes several minutes for caffeine to get into your
system and deliver the energy boost you need, so if you are
already tired when you first drink a caffeinated drink, it may
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
ery 2 hrs, or every 100 miles.
Get out and stretc
and walk around for about
10 minutes.
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 1
0 - 20 minute nap.

Any longer 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 wi
th an empty stomach or immediately
after a heavy meal can interfere with sleep.
A light snack before bed may help you achieve more
restful sleep.

Avoid 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.