Stay safe, alert when behind the wheel
With hit-the-highway holiday season still upon us, it’s time for a reminder of the perils of drowsy and distracted driving.
AAA Mid-Atlantic reports that, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, fatigue causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
AAA estimates that 30 percent of licensed drivers have driven in the past 30 days when they were so tired that they struggled to keep their eyes open. In fact, one in 10 licensed drivers confesses to having nodded off at the wheel at least once in the past year, and one in seven drivers between the ages of 16 to 24 admitted the same, making them the most at-risk group, the AAA says.
Ragina Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, compares drowsy driving with more publicized drunk, drugged and distracted driving.
“Driving while sleepy or fatigued can significantly impact driving ability, causing slower reaction time, vision impairment and lapses in judgment,” she wrote in a news release.
To remain alert and avoid drowsiness, AAA suggests:
• Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip;
• Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles;
• Traveling at times when you are normally awake, and staying overnight rather than driving straight through; and
• Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time.
Symptoms of sleepiness include but are not limited to:
• Having trouble keeping your eyes open and focused;
• The inability to keep your head up;
• Daydreaming or having wandering, disconnected thoughts; and
• Drifting from your lane or off the road, or tailgating.
In addition to drowsy driving, the rush of the holiday season may lead motorists to speed on the roadways, presenting an additional danger. Then there are the distractions due to the modern-day propensity to use cellphones while driving, in addition to drivers eating while driving in order to save time from having to stop for food.
Holiday parties also add to the threat of folks drinking and driving, the deadliest mix of them all.
So, in order to have a safe and happy holiday, when you get behind the wheel, don’t drink and drive, cut the distractions and stay focused, and if you get sleepy, pull over or let someone else drive.