Drowsiness & Driving.
Learn about the dangers of drowsy driving and the importance of good sleep habits. Falling asleep at the wheel is clearly dangerous, but being sleepy affects the ability to drive safely.
Drowsiness makes drivers less attentive, slows reaction time, and affects a driver’s ability to make decisions. Although it may be difficult to attribute a fatal vehicle crash to drowsy driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving. These estimates are probably conservative, though, and up to 5,000 or 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused
by drowsy drivers.
Commercial drivers, shift workers (work the night shift
or long shifts), drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, drivers who use sedating medications, and drivers who do not get adequate sleep are all more likely to drive drowsy.
Among nearly 150,000 adults aged at least 18 years or older in 19 states and the District of Columbia, 4.2% reported that they had fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous 30 days. Individuals who snored or usually slept 6 or fewer hours per day were more likely to
report this behavior.
How can YOU prevent yourself and others from falling asleep at the wheel?
Encourage enough sleep! According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need 7 or 8 hours of sleep a day, while adolescents need 9 or 10 hours.
Evaluate for sleep disorders and prescribe appropriate treatment.
Educate on the effects of drinking alcohol or taking sedating medications before driving. The warning signs of drowsy driving include yawning or blinking frequently, difficulty remembering the past few miles driven, missing the exit, drifting from the
lane, and hitting a rumble strip. If any of these warning signs are present, pull over to rest or change drivers.
Signs of Inadequate Sleep
Dependent on an alarm clock? With enough sleep, there should be no need for an alarm to wake up. Hitting the snooze before getting up is a sign of sleep deprivation.
Experiencing drowsy driving? Falling asleep at the wheel is a sure sign of inadequate sleep. It’s also a common cause of deadly auto accidents.
Relying on caffeine to get through the day? A cup of coffee to start the day is fine, however, drinking caffeine all day to stay awake and alert is another sign of sleep deprivation.
Making mistakes? With poor sleep, focus and concentration can become difficult resulting in distraction and can increase the chances of overlooking errors.
Forgetful? Sleep deprivation hinders short-term memory, which may explain difficulty remembering things.
Irritable? Being tired can have negative effects on mood leading to increased feelings of depression, anxiousness, or frustration.
Frequently sick? Without sleep, the immune system is not at full strength and the body may
have difficulty fighting illness.
Source: SleepWorks Newsletter