Knoxville, TN – Proper rest can very well save your life. Daylight Savings Time began March 12th and the changing of the clock can affect your sleep cycle and increase crash risk behind the wheel.
In 2014, there were 846 drowsy-driving-related deaths recorded in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database.A recent report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly all motorists view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and completely unacceptable; however, nearly three in ten motorists admit to driving when they were so tired they could barely keep their eyes open, at some point in the past month.
“Contrary to popular belief, attempting to fight off sleep by turning up the radio, cracking a window, or chewing gum are all ineffective actions and will not help prevent drowsiness for longer than a few minutes,” said Stephanie Milani, Tennessee Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep is the best way to prevent a potentially fatal crash.” Sleeping fewer than five hours a night increases the risk of a collision by four to five times.
There is no guarantee you will recognize your body becoming tired behind the wheel. In fact, one half of drivers involved in crashes resulting from falling asleep behind the wheel did not detect any signs of drowsiness prior to the crash.
Be aware that there may not be any warning signs before drifting off to sleep, but be sure to recognize any of the warning signs that do appear:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven, passing up exits, or missing traffic signs
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, following too closely, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless or irritable
AAA offers these tips to prevent becoming drowsy:
- Get plenty of rest. This may vary by individual, but sleep experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours per night for adults, and 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours per night for teens.
- Plan ahead. Be sure to take into consideration the total length of your trip, stopping points, and other logistical concerns. If you are planning on taking a longer trip, take a friend with you. Passengers can help identify symptoms of drowsiness and share the task of driving.
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness. These include both over the counter and prescribed medications that may impair driving performance. If you are unsure how your medications may affect your driving performance you can find more information via Roadwise Rx: www.roadwiserx.com
The report results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org
About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.
Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to over 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.
ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 57 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.