These facts and tools can be used in an engaging drowsy and distracted driving prevention program.
You’ve probably heard about the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. But did you know that drowsy driving—driving while sleepy or worn out—can have a similar impact on your ability to drive safely? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2017, 91,000 crashes involved drowsy drivers.
Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of distracted and drowsy driving, and how educators can implement drowsy driving prevention programs to reduce the number of drowsy driving accidents.
What is drowsy driving?
Whatever the reason—a new baby, a lengthy road trip, a sleep disorder, or even everyday stress—fatigue impacts us all at one time or another and in different ways. Fatigue can also lead to deadly consequences on the road.
There are varying statistics on how many crashes occur due to drowsy driving because it can be difficult to determine whether a driver was fatigued at the time of the crash. The NHTSA estimates that accidents involving a tired driver killed 800 people in 2017 and injured another 50,000, though many experts believe those numbers could be much higher.
Drowsy driving is not uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a third of U.S. adults report getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep. And approximately 1 out of 25 adults reported having fallen asleep while driving within the 30 days before being surveyed.
Some people experience micro-sleeps, or short periods of inattention that may last just a few seconds but have dangerous outcomes.
Why is drowsy driving dangerous?
Driving drowsy doesn’t necessarily mean falling fast asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy driving can also make you less attentive, slow down your reaction time, and affect your ability to make decisions.
Studies have shown that going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive in similar ways to drunk driving. Being awake for 24 hours or more is equal to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10%—higher than the legal BAC limit in all states.
What can drivers do?
Here are some signs that it’s time to pull over, from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable
You can do plenty of things to reduce drowsy driving even before you get behind the wheel:
- Get more sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get at least seven or more hours of sleep per night.
- Get good sleep. Make sure those seven or more hours of sleep are good sleep. Check out these tips for improving your sleep habits from the CDC.
- Review your labels. Fatigue is a common side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter medications. Look for the phrase “may cause drowsiness,” so you know what to expect and be cautious about driving when you start taking a new medication.
- Talk to your doctor. If you’re having trouble sleeping, or feel sleepy during the day, talk to your health care provider to discuss treatment options.
How can I implement a drowsy driving prevention program?
Many drivers likely don’t understand the impact of driving while tired or distracted. That’s why hands-on learning tools and experiences are essential to any drowsy driving prevention and awareness program.
Our distracted driving simulators provide a safe and realistic way to learn about a hazardous situation, allowing participants to see what it’s like to have delayed reaction time and other impairments.
Fatal Vision Drowsy and Distracted Goggles simulate momentary micro-sleeps that build in waves until the eyes and brain shut down. The goggles black out, beginning with a short half-second closure and continue to black out for longer periods, to mimic the process of nodding off while driving.
Whichever tools you use, the goal is to help reinforce the dangers of drowsy driving and help reduce preventable crashes.
Have questions? Our team of experts is here to help you find the right tools for your drowsy driving prevention program. Contact us online or call 800.272.5023 today.
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