Why Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is So Important
Nearly every Pennsylvania driver has experienced the dizzying feeling of falling asleep or almost dozing while behind the wheel. In fact, statistics show that approximately 20 percent of individuals admit to unintentionally snoozing while driving. Whether it’s because they got too little sleep the night before or they’ve been awake for hours and hours, the results can be deadly. As reports show, more than 6,000 victims are killed every year in traffic accidents linked to drowsy driving.
This year, November 4 through 11 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, a time devoted to shedding light on the concerns of fatigued driving. It’s an important topic that needs to be discussed more often, especially when faced with the sobering facts related to drowsy driving.
Stemming the Tide of Distracted, Drowsy Driving
One of the most troubling aspects of driving while super-tired is that people who have driven with heavy eyelids tend to do it again and again, tempting fate and putting themselves and others in harm’s way.
Rather than rectifying their mistakes, they treat driving while drowsy as something that “just happens,” as if it isn’t under their control to make a change. Perhaps it’s because more than a third of us just don’t get the recommended amount of sleep, anyway. Thus, we’re accustomed to doing everything in a sleep-deprived state.
Regardless, no sleepy person should be a driver, especially if he or she wants to avoid being at fault for a car accident and incurring criminal charges. Driving while drowsy creates the same mental distractions as driving while under the influence of legal drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol. Staying up for 20 hours without napping is the same as having a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration level. To put that in perspective, a motorist caught with a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration level in Philadelphia could be charged with general impairment under Act 24.
Putting Drowsy Driving to Bed
What’s the answer to solving the issue of drowsy driving once and for all? Foremost, it’s understanding and acknowledging the factors that put a driver at risk of driving while sleepy:
- Getting too little or no sleep for 20 hours or longer. At this point, reflex time goes up, making it tougher to avoid collisions.
- Being young and inexperienced. Younger drivers are just learning how to navigate the roads. The last thing they need is to drive while tired, although many of them don’t realize the dangers.
- Taking certain medications. If a doctor or pharmacist says that a medication can cause drowsiness, it’s a call to action to not drive. Some medications create a sense of sleepiness and mental fog.
- Drinking and driving. Alcohol is a depressant. Consequently, it can cause a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.
Of course, anyone who hasn’t gotten enough zzzzz’s can put himself or herself in a terrible situation by getting in a vehicle and heading down the road. Even a “simple” five-minute drive to the King of Prussia Mall before it closes could end in tragedy.
Watching Out for Signs of Drowsiness
Whether you’re the driver behind the wheel or you’re a passenger in a vehicle operated by someone else, keep an eye out for signs of drowsy driving:
- Drifting into other lanes. This is a common occurrence among people who are nodding off, because they can’t concentrate on the task at hand.
- Rolling down the window or turning up the radio. Sometimes, drivers feel like they can stay awake with loads of cold, fresh air. While a jolt of freezing breeze might offer temporary wakefulness, it won’t last.
- Not being able to remember the past 10, 30, or 90 minutes is a surefire sign of distraction.
- Forgetting the rules of the road. Often, sleepy drivers will stop using their turn signals, will rush through red lights, or may even drive the wrong way on a divided highway.
- In order to get home faster for sleep, drivers that are drowsy may hit the gas.
If you spot these red flags in yourself, pull over to the first safe spot you can. Even taking a 15- or 30-minute catnap will leave you refreshed and more alert. And if you’re a passenger who is awake and has a legal driver’s license? Insist on taking the wheel so you can get home safely.
Drowsy driving is everyone’s business in Pennsylvania and across the nation. Do your part to stop this problem by staying alert and getting the rest your mind and body needs to drive at your best.
Been hurt in an accident in Pennsylvania caused by a distracted or drowsy driver? Contact Wapner Newman to talk about your incident during a confidential initial consultation.