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Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

November 8 to 14 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. DDPW is a public awareness campaign by the National Sleep Foundation designed to educate young drivers (and everyone on the road!) about the dangers of driving while sleepy. AAA has released a timely report in order to commemorate the week’s importance. (http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/2010DrowsyDrivingReport.pdf)

"When you are behind the wheel of a car, being sleepy is very dangerous. Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time and impairs judgment, just like drugs or alcohol, contributing to the possibility of a crash," AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger said in a press release. "We need to change the culture so that not only will drivers recognize the dangers of driving while drowsy but will stop doing it."

To remain alert, AAA suggests:

  • Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip;

  • Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles;

  • Traveling at times when you are normally awake, and staying overnight rather than driving straight through; and

  • Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time.

Symptoms of drowsy driving include:

  • You have trouble keeping your eyes open and focused
  • You can’t keep your head up
  • You daydream or have wandering, disconnected thoughts
  • You yawn frequently or rub your eyes repeatedly
  • You find yourself drifting from your lane or tailgating
  • You miss signs or drive past your exit
  • You feel irritable and restless
  • You drift off the road and hit the rumble strips
  • You are unable to remember how far you have traveled or what you have recently passed by.

Eighty-five percent of the participants from AAA's survey report that they find it "completely unacceptable" for drivers to still take control of a vehicle if they are tired enough not to be able to keep their eyes open, yet drowsy driving still remains a problem.

DDSW will educate drivers that coffee, energy drinks, caffeine supplements and other stimulants are no substitute to getting plenty of rest. Though they may help a bit, in the long run, the potential of danger outweighs their benefits.

People may help spread awareness by the resources that are provided by the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving site. (http://drowsydriving.org/resources/drowsy-driving-prevention-week-toolkit/)

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