Attention motorists, it’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week from November 5th to the 12th. This is an annual awareness campaign created by the National Sleep Foundation to help raises awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving, how it affects drivers, and how it can be avoided. Because about 1 out of 4 adults in the US personally know someone who has fallen asleep at the wheel, it’s crucial that we come together to reduce drowsy driving to make our nation’s roads safer.
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week
More people are driving tired than you think. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study driving drowsy is responsible about 1 in 6 deadly accidents and 2 in 8 of crashes that result in hospitalization. These staggering numbers are on the rise, resulting in over 100,000 every year.
You can help you and your family members learn to recognize the symptoms of driving fatigued:
- Excessive yawning
- Frequent daydreaming or having your mind wandering
- Feeling irritable, confused, or aggressive
- Slowed reflexes and responses
- Heavy eyes and eyelids
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Failure to remember the past few miles driven
Failing to remember the past few miles or maneuvers made is especially serious because it could a sign of having a microsleep, where you fall asleep for anywhere between a fraction of a second to up to 2 minutes without knowing it. A lot can happen during that period of unconsciousness.
So, What Can You Do To Prevent Drowsy Driving?
These are tips for your everyday life. Drowsy driving can occur during your daily commute, not just during late nights or long trips.
- Don’t overdo your limits. During long trips take breaks to rest. Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours. Pull over for power naps or find a hotel to rest if you start feeling tired. Feeling rushed to get to an event or family gathering can be dangerous.
- Use the buddy system. Either find someone to talk to hands-free while you drive or have an actual friend or family member to ride with you to take a turn behind the wheel if you get tired.
- Avoid alcohol or taking medications that may cause drowsiness.
- Get some coffee or green tea to increase alertness. Avoid drinks and snacks that have a high amount of sugar that could cause your body to crash.
- Assess your risk for sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Increases The Risk For Drowsy Driving
Sometimes driver fatigue starts in the bedroom because you aren’t getting proper rest due to sleep apnea, a prevalent disorder currently affecting over 22 million Americans, while 80% remain undiagnosed.
Because it occurs during sleep, most people wrongfully assume that they’re just tired. They miss the fact that if they have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), their airways become blocked as the soft tissues in their throat collapses. Then the body undergoes a large amount of stress as it tries to restore your breathing, preventing you from properly resting.
Aside from increased traffic incidents other sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Waking with a headache
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Waking with a dry mouth or cough
- Loud snoring or choking and gasping in your sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
If you feel as if you may have sleep apnea, the time to get tested is now. Those with sleep apnea are 2.5% more likely to be involved in a crash, but once treated with CPAP, the chances of being in a wreck are reduced by 70%.
This is because the use of a Continuous Positive Airway (CPAP) device is the most effective sleep apnea treatment. It provides a steady stream of air to keep your airways open, giving your body the oxygen it needs to properly rest.
Contact us to get started. Do your part for Drowsy Driving Prevention Week by taking your life back from sleep deprivation today!