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One in three drivers admit to drowsy driving

Thirty-two percent admitted to drowsy driving within the last month in a AAA safety survey, despite the fact 96 percent of everyone considers this unacceptable behavior. This is pursuant to last year’s survey that revealed one of six fatalities and one in eight accidents causing serious injury resulted from drowsy driving, a rate substantially higher than thought, reaffirming the negative impact of this behavior on automotive crashes, injuries and deaths.
Posted: November 5, 2011 - 6:25PM
Author: Don Bain

“Although the vast majority of drivers recognize the serious threat of drowsy driving, a 'Do as I Say, Not as I Do' attitude exists when getting behind the wheel. Drowsy driving kills, just as sure as drunk, drugged and distracted driving does," said AAA Foundation president and CEO Peter Kissinger . "Drivers have a tendency to underestimate the impact being tired has on their driving ability, which puts themselves and others at risk."

In observation of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, the AAA is seeking to raise awareness among drivers of the deadly seriousness of this risky behavior, yet widespread incidence of drowsy driving.

The Recent AAA drowsy driving survey further discovered two of every five motorists, or 41 percent, confess to falling asleep at the wheel, with one in 10 reporting such an occurrence within the last year. "What's so alarming is that over half of these drivers reported having fallen asleep while driving on high‐speed roads," said AAA's Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research Jake Nelson. "These data underscore the importance of educating drivers about the dangers of drowsy driving."

For over two decades, the National Sleep Foundation has sought to improve drowsy driving awareness and collateral education.

"It is shocking to consider that nearly a third of drivers admit to operating a vehicle in the last month while drowsy," said David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. "We applaud AAA's work to call attention toward this important public safety issue."

Warning Signs
Difficulty keeping your eyes open – heavy eyelids

Difficulty keeping your head up or a tendency to nod repeatedly

Erratic tracking, failing to stay in lane, swerving, tailgating, and/or hitting rumble strips (and if those don’t wake you PLEASE GET OFF THE ROAD!)

Forgetting where you are, loss of short-term memory or not recalling recently passed landmarks

Driving past your exit or missing important highway signs

Yawning and tired eyes

Prevention Tips
First and foremost get plenty of sleep the night before a long trip. Here lies the root of the problem as 23 percent of Americans are afflicted with insomnia, according to a recent study by the Harvard Medical School

Don’t drive drowsy. An exhausted driver can fall asleep at any time – fatigue negatively affects reaction time, judgment and vision, resulting in drowsy people behaving in a manner very like those who are drunk

Travel during your normal waking time and don’t push yourself to drive on into your normal sleep period

Schedule rest stops at least every two hours or 100 miles

Drink a caffeinated beverage or energy drink. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, find a secure place to take a short nap to allow the caffeine to take effect

Travel with an alert companion

The National Sleep Foundation’s Driving Drowsy Prevention Week is Nov. 6–12. For more information on how to avoid this serious threat to traffic safety known as drowsy driving, click here.