As you may assume, my life revolves around the mattress world, and making sure everyone get the best mattress possible but ultimately it is about you getting the best night’s sleep possible and saving the world one mattress at a time. I read this article and thought it is important for you to know. (The source is http://school.sleepeducation.com) Sleepy Drowsy driving is a common – and often deadly – danger on our roads. It occurs when you are too tired to remain alert while behind the stirring wheel. As a result you may struggle to stay focused on the road and fail to practice safe driving techniques.
Feeling drowsy makes you easily sidetracked. As hard as you may try you may be unable to focus and pay attention. This can lead to increased mistakes and a decreased ability to identify and correct mistakes. Your thinking can be slowed and your response time delayed. People who are sleepy also tend to be unaware that their performance and alertness are suffering.
Sleepy driving can be as deadly as drunk driving, putting yourself, your passengers and other drivers in danger. Common mistakes while driving drowsy include:
Following too closely behind the vehicle in front of you
Failing to realize that you are driving too fast
Drifting into another lane or off the road without knowing it
Falling asleep behind the wheel and losing control of your vehicle
Accidents caused by drowsy driving tend to share some common features. These include:
Time of Day: Accidents often occur late at night or early in the morning during the body’s natural sleep period. Accidents also can occur when sleepiness peaks after lunch in the middle of the afternoon
Speed: Accidents often occur at high speeds on highways and other major roadways.
Solitude: Accidents often involve one vehicle that veers off the road. Drivers often are alone in the vehicle, or others are sleeping.
No Brakes: Drivers often make no attempt to apply the brakes or avoid the crash.
Severity: Accidents often cause severe injuries or death.
Anyone who doesn’t get enough sleep can drive drowsy. But certain people have a higher risk than others, including people who:
Take medications that cause sleepiness
Drink alcohol, which increases drowsiness
Work night shifts or rotating shifts
Have a sleep disorder
DROWSY DRIVING STATISTICS
unfortunately, drowsy driving occurs all too often. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 21 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes involve driver fatigue. One third of crashes involving a drowsy driver also result in injuries.
The AAA Foundation also estimates that drowsy driving is involved in:
6% of all crashes in which a vehicle was towed from the scene
7% of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash
13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized
The actual impact of drowsy driving may be even higher than the statistics show. It is difficult to know how drowsy someone was prior to an accident. Unlike drunk driving, there is no “breathalyzer” test for drowsiness. So unless a driver admits falling asleep, drowsy driving often goes unreported. But surveys show that drowsy driving is common.
The CDC analyzed survey data from 19 states and the District of Columbia. Results show that 4.2% of people reported having fallen asleep while driving at least one time during the previous 30 days. In 2002 The Gallup Organization surveyed more than 4,000 drivers in the U.S. Survey results show that 37 percent of drivers reported nodding off or falling asleep at least once while driving. Males were almost twice as likely as females to report that they had driven drowsy. Gallup estimated that 7.5 million drivers had nodded off while driving in the past month.Based on these estimates, the AAA Foundation projects that drowsy driving plays a role in an average of 328,000 crashes annually. This total includes 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.
DROWSY DRIVING WARNING SIGNS
You may think that you are alert when you get behind the wheel. But feelings of drowsiness can increase during your trip. How do you know that you are becoming drowsy while driving? You should learn to recognize these eight warning signs for drowsy driving:
You keep yawning.
You are unable to keep your eyes open.
You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
You can’t remember driving the last few miles.
You end up too close to cars in front of you.
You miss road signs or drive past your turn.
You drift into the other lane of traffic.
You drift onto the “rumble strip” or onto the shoulder of the road.
DROWSY DRIVING PREVENTION
Can anything be done to prevent accidents caused by drowsy driving? One important step is to seek help for an ongoing sleep problem. People with sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea may struggle with severe sleepiness while driving.
A sleep center that is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine can provide the help you need. Getting treatment for a sleep disorder can improve your sleep and boost your alertness.
Another method of prevention is the use of roadway shoulder “rumble strips.” They are a common feature on roadsides all across the country. Rumble strips cause loud vibrations when cars come in contact with them. The rumbling vibration and loud noise help prevent run-off-road crashes. After hitting a rumble strip, a driver’s alertness increases dramatically. But this alerting effect tends to be brief. A study published in 2008 examined how rumble strips affect sleepy drivers. After hitting a rumble strip their alertness increased. But signs of sleepiness returned after five minutes. So a rumble strip may briefly wake you up. But it won’t keep you from driving drowsy.
Some automakers have developed high-tech systems to help prevent accidents caused by drowsy driving. The “Attention Assist” system by Mercedes has sensors that measure more than 70 parameters to monitor your alertness. The system focuses on your steering behavior. It detects minor steering errors that often occur in the early stages of drowsiness. Attention Assist then warns you when you are at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. SAAB’s “Driver Attention Warning System” uses an infrared camera to monitor your eyes. Software analyzes the image and measures your rate of eye blinking. Warnings occur when it detects drowsy eye-lid closures. These systems offer innovative solutions for drowsy driving. But their effectiveness at preventing accidents caused by drowsiness has yet to be determined. Some states have attempted to pass legislation to deter irresponsible drowsy driving. In New Jersey, “Maggie’s Law” was passed in 2003 in honor of 20-year-old Maggie McDonnell. She was killed when a driver crossed three lanes of traffic and hit her head-on.
The driver admitted that he had been awake for 30 hours and had fallen asleep at the wheel. Now the state law makes killing an individual while sleep-deprived a vehicular homicide. It remains unclear whether such legislation will promote driver alertness and reduce drowsy driving. Ultimately, the best method of prevention is to make it a priority to get enough sleep each night.
TIPS TO AVOID DROWSY DRIVING To avoid drowsy driving you must make the right choices before and after you get in the driver’s seat. Rolling down the windows or turning up the volume on the radio will do little to increase your alertness while driving. Instead, follow these eight tips to stay safe and alert behind the wheel:Get a full night of sleep before driving, especially when going on a long trip. Arrange for someone else to give you a ride when you are tired or when you know that you will be unable to get enough sleep. Avoid driving late at night. Avoid driving alone. Share the driving with another passenger when taking a long trip. Never take any medications that cause sleepiness before or while driving. Use caffeine for a short-term boost. Pull over at a rest stop or in a safe parking lot and take a nap when you feel drowsy. Your safety as well as those around us is important. It is important we stay alert. I hope you found this to be informative.