Drowsy driving just as dangerous as drunk driving
Researchers determined alcohol intake and sleepiness carry nearly the same amount of risk when it comes to automobile crashes. Drowsy driving is responsible for 100,000 crashes each year, including 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries, according to The National Sleep Foundation.
The Foundation recommends people avoid driving if they have had two hours of sleep or less in the last 24 hours.
“While individual sleep needs vary, and stimulants, like caffeine, may trick sleep-deprived people into feeling alert, the reality is that people are definitely impaired when they have obtained two hours of sleep or less per day,” said Charles Czeisler, chairman of the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Consensus Workshop, in a statement.
The Foundation recommends a driver stop and rest if they display the following signs:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming: wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven, missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a shoulder rumble strips
- Feeling restless and irritable
In addition to monitoring the amount of sleep, quality of sleep is also important.
“While the ideal amount of sleep that is required is not clear, insufficient or poor quality sleep has been associated with motor vehicle accidents and adverse health consequences,” says Dr. Daniel Nepomuceno, director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Advocate Good Shepherd in Barrington, Ill. “It’s not only the quantity, but also the quality of our sleep that matters.”
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