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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tips to Prevent Drowsy Driving on Your Summer Vacation

How to Avoid a Dangerous yet Preventable Hazard

Many sleepy drivers will hit the road this summer for their vacation spots, oblivious to the dangers of drowsy driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the summer vacation season is the deadliest time of year for drivers. In order to arrive at their destinations safely, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is calling on drivers to remain alert at the wheel and be mindful of other sleepy drivers.

"Many people fail to realize just how much sleep impacts alertness on the roadways. Not getting a good night's sleep and driving can have deadly consequences," said NSF's chief executive officer, Richard Gelula. "In fact, drowsy driving may be just as dangerous as drunk driving because sleepiness results in slower reaction times and performance; reduced judgment and vision; delayed information processing and short term memory formation; and even increased anger and moodiness."

The NHTSA figures that driver fatigue directly causes 100,000 car crashes each year, and the results are both deadly and costly: it estimates 1,550 deaths; 71,000 injuries; and $12.5 billion in diminished productivity and property loss. Researchers conclude that these numbers are underestimated, given that nearly 1 million crashes are caused by driver inattention, one of fatigue's side effects.

Drowsy drivers plague America's roadways. NSF's 2005 Sleep in America Poll revealed that 60 percent of adults had driven while drowsy in the past year. What's more, one out of five drivers admit to having actually fallen asleep while driving; that's a mind-boggling 32 million people!

"Drowsy driving risks the life of not only the driver, but the lives of their passengers - family and friends - and other drivers on the road," Gelula said. "The disastrous effects of fatigue-related crashes can easily be prevented; all it takes is for people to recognize the problem and get off the road."

These warning signs say that it's time pull over and stop driving:

  • Trouble focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids
  • Tailgating, swerving, drifting from your lane, and/or hitting rumble strips
  • Repeated yawning
  • Difficulty remembering the last few miles driven
  • Missed exits or traffic signs
  • Difficulty keeping your head up

Here are some year-round tips for avoiding drowsy driving:

  • Get a good night's sleep. Be alert for the drive; go to bed early the night before your trip.

  • Allow enough time to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to drive through the night or neglect to stop for breaks, yet some the most deadly crashes are caused by drowsy driving. It's wiser to drive alert and arrive alive.

  • Avoid driving alone for long distances. Just as you should not swim alone, take turns behind the wheel with a friend who can also help identify the warning signs of fatigue.

  • Stop and rest every 100 miles or 2 hours.

  • Do not imbibe in alcohol and medications (over-the-counter and prescribed), which will impair driving performance and intensify the effects of sleepiness.

  • Avoid driving through the night.

From birth through adulthood, Lowest Price Traffic School believes in making safety a priority. Over the past ten years, we've provided traffic school courses, Florida learners permit classes, and other driver education resources to over two million customers nationwide.

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