When students hit the road, whether it's to head home for the holidays or to road trip with some friends, it's important for them to be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving. The common effects of driving while drowsy include becoming stressed, getting impatient and driving faster—a dangerous, and commonly fatal, combination. The grim accident statistics speak loud and clear—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue every year. Striking even closer to home are the findings form the National Sleep Foundation on young people and drowsy driving:
- Drivers less than 25 years old cause approximately 55 percent of drowsy driving crashes.
- Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash.
Tips to avoid drowsy driving
- Get a good night's sleep. The average person requires about eight hours of sleep a night. Plan to drive during times of day when you are normally awake and stay overnight rather than traveling straight through.
- Get a companion for a long trip. Passengers can talk with you, help look for early warning signs of fatigue and provide a change of drivers when needed. If you don't have a companion, try organizing a carpool via a campus ride board.
- Schedule regular stops every 100 miles or two hours.
- Consult your physician or a local sleep disorders center for diagnosis and treatment if you suffer frequent daytime sleepiness, have difficulty sleeping at night often, or snore loudly every night.
Danger signs on the road
If these things occur, students should get off the road immediately before they fall asleep or get into a drowsy driving crash:
- Experience wandering or disconnected thoughts
- Drift from your lane or hit a rumble strip
- Keep jerking your vehicle back into the lane
- Miss traffic signs
- Yawn repeatedly
- Have difficulty keeping eyes open and focused
- Can't remember the last few miles
- Have trouble keeping your head up