With Daylight Saving Time ending, the National Sleep Foundation is raising awareness for drowsy driving.
Commuters know about the dangers of drunk driving, but not everybody is aware that driving while drowsy can be just as deadly.
“Drowsy driving is in fact impaired driving. Like drunk driving, like drugged driving, and like distracted driving it’s the fourth ‘D’ of problematic driving,” says Dr. Joe Dzierzewski, Vice President of Research and Scientific Affairs at the National Sleep Foundation.
The National Sleep Foundation says that the week of November 6th to the 13th is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
“We know that drowsy driving kills an estimated 6,400 individuals in the United States each year,” said Dr. Dzierzewski, “We also found that 62% of drivers in the U.S. admitted to driving while they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.”
With daylight savings time ending soon, many drivers commuters are driving to and from work before sunrise and sunset. While this time of year there is a focus on the need for good sleep, Dr. Dzierzewski says that drowsy driving is a year-round problem.
He says the best way to avoid the dangers of driving drowsy is prevention, know the signs that you’re too tired to drive.
Dr. Dzierzewski says – in addition to the obvious like not being able to keep your eyes open – some of the signs include, “Things like not remembering the last couple miles that you’ve driven, not having any indication of your surroundings during that time, having a hard time controlling your vehicle…drifting in your lane.”
Once a driver works on noticing the signs of drowsy driving, they can stop themselves from getting behind the wheel. And prevention starts with building good habits for regulate your sleep schedule and level of fatigue throughout the day. “Individuals who get the the NSF recommended duration of sleep, that being 7 to 9 hours for most adults, are much less likely to drive while drowsy,” said Dr. Dzierzewski.
He also recommends spending time in bright light during the day, preferably outdoor light, getting physical activity during the day, and eating your meals on a regular schedule. To make sleeping easier, he says to go to bed at the same time each night and cut out nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol before sleep.