Attention Drivers, Are You Awake?

Many accidents occur due to a driver being under the influence of drugs or alcohol but what about the driver being too drowsy to drive? Falling asleep at the wheel is as dangerous as a person drinking and driving. The result can be just as devastating. The Florida's Sheriff's Association reports driver fatigue leads to 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 accidents each year in the United States.

Florida has joined other states in signing legislation to observe the first week of September each year as Drowsy Driving Awareness Week. Getting little or interrupted sleep over an extended period of time can cause a person to become drowsy or fatigued, which can result in impaired driver's reaction time, judgment and their vision.

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, a public awareness campaign is designed to educate the public of the dangers of driving while drowsy.

Experts suggest we need 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep to maintain alertness during the day. Work schedules can be hectic. Shift workers are often affected as their schedules don't always coincide with getting the kids off to school. Working nights often affects your circadian rhythm, commonly referred to as your internal body clock. Make a point of taking a nap if you know you will be on the road.

Planning a road trip? Plan ahead and identify where you will stop along the way to rest and for meals. Taking the time to stretch or walk around during a long trip helps keep you energized and alert. On a long trip, you should take breaks about every 100 miles or every two hours of driving. Having a driving companion can not only share the driving but talk along the way, keeping you engaged and alert.

If you're planning a trip to a time zone several hours different than your own, consider how the jet lag may affect you. Try selecting a flight where you arrive in the early evening. If you need to sleep during the day, limit the nap to no more than 2 hours to allow you to resume to a normal sleep pattern. Do the same on your return trip to avoid exhaustion or fatigue as you return to your regular routine.

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