Get enough rest before you get on the road

Get enough rest before you get on the road
ARLINGTON—While electronic devices pose a growing distraction among drivers, a more traditional distraction—drowsiness—still poses a real danger on the road.

The National Sleep Foundation will use Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov 4-11, to heighten public awareness of sleep safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year.

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that about one in six fatal vehicle crashes and one in eight that resulted in a hospitalization involved drowsy driving. The foundation noted that drivers between 16 and 24 were nearly twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash as drivers between 40 and 59, and about 57 percent of drowsy driving crashes involved a driver drifting into other lanes or off the road.

“There is a great deal drivers can do to protect themselves and others against drowsy-driving crashes,” said Darlene Wells, executive vice president and general manager of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “At a time when many Virginians are making holiday travel plans and traveling to fall and winter sporting events, Farm Bureau encourages all drivers to make sure they allow for adequate rest.”

The National Sleep Foundation cites the following warning signs that it’s time to stop driving and address drowsiness: yawning repeatedly; difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and heavy eyelids; difficulty paying attention to traffic; inability to keep one’s head up; drifting from one’s lane, swerving, tailgating and hitting rumble strips; inability to recall the past few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs; and feeling restless, irritable or aggressive.

The foundation suggests taking the following steps to address those conditions:

  • Get a good night's sleep before traveling, and avoid driving at times when you normally would be asleep.

  • Don't be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize a holiday weekend by driving at night or without stopping for breaks.

  • Avoid driving alone for long distances, and switch drivers. A passenger also can help identify signs of driver fatigue.

  • Take a break every 100 miles or two hours.

  • If you think you might fall asleep, find a safe place to take a 15- to 20-minute nap. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.

  • Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect.

Media: Contact Pam Wiley, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1128.

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