Did you know that drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,400 deaths in the U.S. annually? Or did you know that nearly 30% of American drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel? National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov. 6-13, is aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of driving while sleep deprived.
While driving drowsy is dangerous for everyone, it can be especially prevalent in late-night shift workers, commercial and long-haul drivers, business travelers, and other transport-related fields. So, what are some of the indicators that you may be too drowsy to operate a vehicle?
Signs of drowsy driving include:
- Finding it hard to focus on the road, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming, wandering eyes, and/or having disconnected thoughts
- Having trouble remembering the last few miles driven
- Missing an exit or ignoring traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Finding it hard to keep your head up or nodding off
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable or becoming aggravated with common situations like traffic
If you notice any of these warning signs for drowsy driving, you should pull over to a safe place, get some rest, stretch or drink a caffeinated beverage. Only continue driving when you feel alert and refreshed.
What are some ways to combat drowsy driving?
- Do not consume alcohol and avoid medications that cause drowsiness.
- Get a good night’s sleep before driving. Good overall sleep habits will go a long way to prevent drowsy driving.
- Take a companion on long trips. Not only will you have someone to share the driving and help keep you awake, but you’ll also save money by carpooling too.
- Schedule regular breaks about every 100 miles or every two hours.
Drowsy driving is a very preventable risk in the workforce, and should be treated as such by your employees, management, and leadership. Ensure your employees and managers know the warning signs of sleep deprivation, and have policies in place to deal with those situations when they arise. This can be especially important for long-haul drivers, commercial delivery drivers, and other DOT regulated transportation workers. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study reported that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash. Commercial drivers are encouraged to learn and recognize the signs of fatigue to help prevent incidents and accidents on the job.
Mercy Occupational Medicine providers are Certified DOT Medical Examiners, and Mercy offers DOT physicals at all of our eight locations throughout WNC. To schedule a consultation for your business, contact Jon Medin at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling call 828.252.3443.
Source: National Sleep Foundation, Florida DOT