Spring ahead, fall back. The annual ritual of moving our clocks one hour forward means drivers are more sleep-deprived than usual. Avoid the dangers of drowsy driving yourself, and know how to recognize another drowsy driver.
Read also how to avoid road rage
Simply, fatigue affects our ability to respond. Nodding off at the wheel, or even “spacing out” is dangerous. According to the AAA Foundation, an estimated one in six (16.5%) fatal crashes, one in eight (13.1%) crashes resulting in hospitalization, and one in 14 (7%) of all crashes in which a passenger vehicle is towed involved a drowsy driver.
Drowsy driving kills people. In 2015, comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and another passenger was killed by a truck whose driver was found to be fatigued.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Drive at times when you are normally awake.
- Schedule a break for long drives.
- Travel with an alert passenger.
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness.
Warning signs of drowsy driving, from the Canadian version of the AAA, include:
- Inability to recall the last few miles driven.
- Disconnected or wandering thoughts.
- Difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open.
- Feeling as though your head is very heavy.
- Drifting out of your driving lane.
- Yawning repeatedly.
- Accidentally tailgating other vehicles.
- Missing traffic signs.
Of course, there are some high-tech features in new auto models that beep or flash at you when you drift out of a lane or come up short on the vehicle ahead, but those should not replace the common sense tips of avoiding driving drowsy yourself, and recognizing others who may not be driving safely.
photos courtesy AAA Foundation, IHFSNA.org.