National Sleep Awareness Week March 7 - 13

Drowsy Driving

Why Teens are Most at Risk for Driving Drowsy

BINGHAMTON, NYMarch 7-13 is National Sleep Awareness Week and a time when we all need to take a look at our sleeping habits.   Sleep is a key component to our health, performance, safety and quality of life and is just as important as exercise and good nutrition. When we become sleep deprived we leave ourselves at risk for driving drowsy, especially drivers between the ages of 16-29. About 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drivers under the age of 25 are involved in more than half of all crashes in which drivers have fallen asleep.
   
Teen drivers are more at risk for being tired for many reasons: maturational changes–teen bodies are still growing, their sleep patterns are different and they are busier with homework, school and part-time jobs, leaving less time for proper sleep. Young people need at least 8.5 – 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Most do not get the required amount leaving them more likely to drive tired. 
 
Warning signs for drowsy driving include: drifting from lane to lane, yawning repeatedly, difficulty keeping eyes open or focused, having trouble remembering the last few miles driven, tailgating, missing traffic signals, blurry vision and day dreaming. 
 
The best way to avoid driving drowsy is to initially get enough sleep. Try to limit your driving between midnight and 6:00 a.m. when your body normally wants to sleep. If you feel drowsy while driving, pull over in a safe area and take a quick 15 – 20 minute nap. If you are taking a long trip, be sure to make regular stops every 100 miles or every 2 hours–ideally switch drivers and share the driving responsibility. Drinking caffeine can sometimes help drowsiness however the caffeine needed to make any kind of difference should be equivalent to 2 cups of coffee. Be aware that caffeine takes about 30 minutes to become effective and even then the effects are short lived. Remember that opening a window or listening to the radio does not work!
  
And even if you’re not a teen driver, we are all at some risk during this time of year. Daylight Saving Time begins on March 14th and many of us are affected by that loss of an hours sleep. So if you feel fatigued while you are driving, recognize the signs and pull over! 
 
For more information about sleep and drowsy driving please visit the National Sleep Foundation website at www.nsaw.org or www.drowsydriving.org .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

03/10/2010 - 10:35am