Drowsy drivers can be just as dangerous impaired as a driver who has been drinking possibly more so because they don’t realize they are impaired. Fatigue impairs judgment and insight. 70 million Americans are functioning on little or no sleep, and recent studies suggest that almost 20-25 percent of all serious collisions are associated with driver sleepiness.
The human body has two sleepy periods:
• The primary one is between midnight and 6am.
• The other is early to mid-afternoon.
Americans use physical activity and stimulants to cope with sleep loss which masks their level of sleepiness and when performing repetitive tasks, such as driving long distances. boredom sets in and sleep comes quickly. 37 percent of drivers reported dozing off while driving at least once in the past year. The study also found many of the drivers weren’t even aware they had fallen asleep.
Sleep represents 1/3 of our lives and has a major impact on how we live, think and function during the other two-thirds. Sleep sustains our alertness and mental performance. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. When you restrict your sleep to 4-6 hours per night for just two weeks, you essentially reduce your mental performance to someone who hasn’t sleep for two days. Losing sleep reduces your mental performance. Fatigue can affect anyone, but some of us are at a higher risk for fatigue-related crashes due to the following factors:
• Working more than 60 hours a week increases your risk of being in a traffic crash by 40 percent.
• Shift workers never fully adjust to shift work, because the sleep-wake cycle is dictated by dark and light, so they are more vulnerable to succumbing to sleep while driving home from work.
• The under 30 age group accounts for only 1⁄4 of licensed drivers but accounts for 66 percent of fatigue related crashes.
• Males are responsible for approximately 75 percent of all fatigue related crashes.
• Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. These 40 million sleep disorder sufferers are 700 percent more likely to have a fatigue related crash.
• Being asleep at the wheel is definitely high-risk behavior. Most police officers have reported stopping a driver they thought who had been drinking, but it turned out they were extremely fatigued.
12 signs you might be too tired to drive:
1. Can’t stop yawning.
2. Restless and irritable.
3. Mind wanders and you have disconnected thoughts.
4. Trouble keeping your eyes open – that’s an easy one, especially at stoplights .
5. Can’t remember driving the last few miles.
6. Keep drifting out of your lane.
7. Speed fluctuates.
10. Missing traffic signals.
11. Have trouble keeping your head up.
12. And last but not least, falling asleep while driving.
Now here are some tips to keep you from making tonight’s lead news story:
1. Don’t skimp on sleep – and keep regular sleep.
2. Don’t drive long distances when you would normally be sleeping.
3. Avoid alcohol or medication that could make you drowsy when driving.
4. When driving long trips, schedule regular stops every couple of hundred miles.
5. Finally, take along someone who annoys the heck out of you but, please be sure to pay attention to the part about stress in the previous segment
With all the studies being conducted on fatigue there are now strategies drivers are often taught to counteract fatigue, such as:
• Rolling down your windows.
• Turning up the radio.
• Stopping to stretch.
• Rest is the ultimate answer.
Experts recommend that you stop for a decaffeinate drink but because it takes about 45 minutes to take you effect, you need to take a nap while you wait. Even this is only a temporary solution, rest is what you really need.
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