Summer may mean longer daylight hours, but too often, many of us are pushing through to our destinations, despite droopy eyelids, poor focus and little regard for safety.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that driving while drowsy is comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol. As with driving while impaired by alcohol, drowsiness makes drivers less attentive, slows reaction time and affects their ability to make sound decisions. Short-term memory can also suffer when driving drowsy, and information processing problems are common. Drowsy drivers are less aware and vigilant, and they also are less motivated to follow proper safety protocols and traffic laws.
Drivers can be taught to watch for some common drowsiness red flags. These include excessive yawning or rubbing of eyes, feeling restless, drifting from lane to lane or hitting a shoulder rumble strip, trouble focusing and increased daydreaming. Daydreaming can cause a driver to not notice mileage, miss turns and exits and not be aware of the distance traveled.
Drowsy driving also has been linked to increased aggressive behavior, which can carry over to more aggressive driving practices.
Drowsy driving not only puts your drivers at risk, but also those they share the road with. Unfortunately, there are also many drowsy driver red flags that aren’t as visible.
Driving alone or on a long, rural road can make fleet drivers feel drowsy and lose their focus. Also, driving for extended periods of time without a break can be just as hazardous. If you have a driver who works more than 60 hours a week, you need to be especially careful because they increase their risks of getting into an accident by 40 percent, according to research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
Below are some drowsy driving-prevention tips from American Automotive Association (AAA) :
- Get enough sleep the night before a long trip.
- Travel at times when you’re normally awake. Stay overnight rather than drive straight through.
- Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles.
- Stop driving if you become sleepy.
- Never plan to work all day and then drive all night.
- Drink a caffeinated beverage. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, find a safe place to take a 20 – to 30-minute nap while you’re waiting for the caffeine to take effect.
- Avoid driving during sleepy times of day, particularly between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Travel with a passenger who’s awake, when possible.