Hitting the Road for Labor Day? Remember to Stay Awake at the Wheel
Labor Day weekend is just around the corner – a time when millions of American motorists will hit the road in search of some end-of-summer fun. With only a few days to enjoy, some will set off for their destinations either late at night or early in the morning in an attempt to stay ahead of traffic and beat the crowds. Many will be too sleepy to drive, putting themselves and others at risk of becoming the latest casualties of drowsy driving.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that Labor Day weekend is second only to the Fourth of July for summertime traffic fatalities.
Most people are aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, but many are in the dark about the dangers of driving while drowsy. Like alcohol, fatigue slows reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment. According to NHTSA, more than 5,000 people died in drowsy-driving-related motor vehicle crashes across the United States last year.1 Drowsy driving crashes are often very serious or fatal, especially when they occur at high rates of speed. Unlike a driver who is impaired by alcohol, a sleeping driver is unable to take any action to avoid a crash.
Often those killed or injured are not only the drowsy drivers, but those of us who have the misfortune to be on the road at the same time. Tragically, many of these crashes could have been avoided - simply by understanding the impact of driving while fatigued.
Drowsy Driving – Know the Risks, Avoid a Crash
The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get plenty of sleep on a regular basis, especially before a long drive. If you do find yourself feeling drowsy behind the wheel, there are steps you can take to avoid a fall-asleep crash. First, recognize the warning signs, such as drooping eyelids or not remembering the last few miles. These are signs that you should pull over as soon as possible and find a place to sleep for the night. If you decide to continue driving, a 15 to 20 minute nap may keep you alert for the remainder of the trip. Remember to consume caffeine before your nap – it takes 20 minutes or so to take effect.