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Some Drivers Can Barely Keep Their Eyes Open

Nov 10, 2016 07:22AM ● Published by Theresa Gilman

Drowsy Driving

(Editor's Note: this content was provided by AAA Northeast.) 

Drowsy driving is impaired driving. What was once called a silent killer now receives more attention as a factor in vehicle crashes than ever before, according to AAA Northeast. This week (November 6-13) is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

  • Drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21 percent of fatal crashes, up from 16.5 percent back in 2010.
  • 37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives.
  • An estimated 328,000 crashes each year nationwide involve a drowsy driver.
  • More than half of drowsy driving crashes involve drivers drifting out of their lanes or off the road.

With clocks rolled back and darkness arriving earlier this week, law enforcement historically reports an increase in the number of crashes. And with college applications due, exams looming, and sports practices in full swing, teenagers are identified as the most sleep-deprived segment of the population – logging an average of 6.5 hours of sleep each night, when their bodies actually require more than nine hours.

“This week – Drowsy Driving Prevention Week – is a great time for parents to talk with their teen drivers about the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs for AAA Northeast.  “As parents, we worry about a host of impairments that can endanger our kids – everything from drunk driving to cell phone use to texting. Drowsy driving is equally dangerous, especially for tired teens.”

AAA reminds parents to watch for signs of fatigue in themselves and in their young drivers. And remember the following tips:

  • Don’t drive when you’re sleepy.
  • If you feel drowsy, try to pull over immediately, park in a safe place, and nap for 20 minutes.
  • Travel with an alert passenger who can relieve you at the wheel if you feel tired.
  • Coffee, energy drinks, driving with windows open and radio blasting are not sleep substitutes.
  • Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles. 
  • Travel at times when you are normally awake. Sleeping less than six hours increases your risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Sleeping less than four hours is extremely dangerous.  

AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 62 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

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