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Drowsy driving: Don't fall asleep at the wheel


Mon, Nov 6th 2023 02:35 pm

AAA shares advice for Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

By AAA of Western and Central New York

Nov. 5-11, 2023, is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week – held each year the week following the end of Daylight Saving Time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports an estimated 100,000 crashes each year are caused primarily by drowsy driving, resulting in more than 71,000 injuries and $12.5 million in damages. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) refers to drowsy driving as the “fourth D” along with drunk, drugged and distracted, as the major causes of impaired driving.

2023 research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that drivers may underestimate their drowsiness, leading them to stay behind the wheel instead of stopping for a much-needed break.

Key Findings

Levels of drowsiness generally increased throughout the simulated highway driving experiment. Participants were usually aware that they were drowsy, but their perceptions of the extent of their sleepiness were not always accurate and affected decision-making.

√ When drivers rated their level of drowsiness as low, 75% of them were, in fact, moderately or severely drowsy.

√ Even when drivers’ eyes were closed for 15 seconds or longer over a one-minute window - indicative of severe drowsiness – one in four still rated their drowsiness as low.

√ Drivers very rarely took breaks unless they perceived that they were very drowsy.

√ Even when drivers recognized they were extremely drowsy, they still declined 75% of their opportunities to take breaks and kept driving.

Please refer to the fact sheet or technical report for methodology details: https://aaafoundation.org/.

The results demonstrate a need to help drivers recognize how drowsy they are. Knowing the warning signs of drowsiness can help drivers avoid dozing off behind the wheel. The most common symptoms include:

√ Having trouble keeping your eyes open

√ Drifting from your lane

√ Not remembering the last few miles driven

While the signs of drowsiness should never be ignored, drivers must not wait for their bodies to sound the alarm. They should prioritize sleeping at least seven hours before hitting the road.

AAA recommends that drivers:

√ Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake

√ Avoid heavy foods

√ Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

For longer trips, drivers should:

√ Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles

√ Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving

√ Do not underestimate the power of a quick nap. Pulling into a rest stop and taking a quick catnap – at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of sleep – can help to keep you alert on the road.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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