(HealthNewsDigest.com) – NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 2020 — It’s only an hour, but it can make a big difference to safety on the road. When we move our clocks back an hour this weekend, our streets and highways become more dangerous as there’s an increased risk of drowsy driving as we do more driving in darkness.
“Fatigue is a factor in more than 328,000 crashes every year, resulting in an estimated 6,400 deaths,” says Michelle Anderson of the National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit group that produces free driver safety materials used in schools and by parents nationwide.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that fatigue-related crashes also result in 109,000 injuries and $109 billion in monetary losses each year.
Studies show more than 60 percent of U.S. motorists have driven while fatigued, and nearly 37 percent admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel. At highway speeds, a driver who dozes for only four or five seconds can travel more than the length of a football field, crossing into oncoming traffic or off the road and into a tree.
Drowsy driving is especially prevalent among teens, who tend to keep late hours and think they can function on minimal sleep. Ironically, experts say, teens require more sleep than adults.
Safety experts remind drivers to never drink alcohol before driving and to check any medications they take to see if they might induce drowsiness.
The National Road Safety Foundation urges drivers to be alert to these signs of drowsiness while driving:
Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, rubbing eyes
Daydreaming or not remembering the last few miles driven
Head snaps and yawning
Drifting out of your lane, tailgating or hitting rumble strips
If you experience any of these warning signs, pull over safely and take a break. Have a cup of coffee or a caffeinated snack or take a 20-minute nap. Allow 30 minutes for caffeine to enter your bloodstream. Some common remedies like blasting the radio or opening the car windows are not effective at preventing drowsiness while driving.
“Fatigue can force you into ‘micro-sleeps’ lasting several seconds, which can have devastating results,” says Anderson. “We’ve seen too many examples of people trying to make it those last few miles, only to crash a block from home. Don’t try to tough it out.”
NRSF has free programs on drowsy driving, including “Almost Home,” a compelling 18-minute video, a drowsiness self-assessment quiz and a personal sleep log. They can be downloaded at https://www.nrsf.org/programs/drowsy-driving
The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded nearly 60 years ago, produces traffic safety programs on distracted driving, speed and aggression, impaired driving, drowsy driving, driver proficiency, pedestrian safety and a host of other safety issues. It distributes the programs free of charge to schools, police and traffic safety advocates, community groups and individuals. It also sponsors contests to engage teens in promoting safe driving to their peers and in their communities, partnering nationally with youth advocacy groups including SADD and FCCLA and regionally with auto shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C.
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