From a Washington State Patrol news release.
Photo credit to Mill Creek Multimedia.
Drowsy driving, or sleepiness, has been identified as a factor in a growing number of automobile crashes. As with the dangers of speeding, drinking and driving, and not wearing seatbelts, drowsy driving is just as devastating and dangerous.
Drowsy driving has serious consequences on our highways. It impairs driver’s reaction time, judgment, vision, awareness of surroundings and decision making. Warnings signs include: trouble keeping your eyes open and head up, difficulty focusing, yawning repeatedly, and missing exits or traffic signs.
“Falling asleep at the wheel is as preventable as collisions that are caused by speeding and drinking and driving,” said Chief John Batiste, Washington State Patrol. “People need to take the necessary precautions to prevent sleepiness as a needless cause of deaths and injuries.”
In 2010, 16 motorists were killed and 60 were seriously injured in Washington State because of drowsy driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each year at least 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries are a result of drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving is such an important issue it prompted Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire to sign a proclamation. In it, she urges all Washington State citizens to join her in observing national Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (DDPW) November 12-18, 2012.
The DDPW campaign was developed to educate young drivers, their parents and others about drowsy driving and its prevention. The AAA Foundation estimates that about one in six deadly crashes nationwide involves a drowsy driver. In fact, The National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 poll found that about one in ten 16-45 year old drivers report driving drowsy once or twice a week.
The Washington State Patrol wants to remind drivers to take the necessary precautions to avoid drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel by following these steps:
- Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road
- Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination
- Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh
- Use the buddy system to keep you awake and share driving chores
- Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect
- Avoid driving when you would normally be sleeping
For more information about drowsy driving and how to prevent it visit SleepFoundation.org, DrowsyDriving.org, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.