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Drowsy Driving

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, held every year during the first full week of November, is a good time to remember that drowsy driving is impaired driving. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually, resulting in more than 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries. Prevent putting yourself and others at risk by following these general rules to reduce drowsy driving:

Prioritize a good night's sleep.
Getting adequate sleep on a daily basis is the only true way to prevent drowsy driving. Experts strongly recommend getting seven or eight hours of sleep per night.

Check your medicine labels.
If you're taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that could cause drowsiness as a side effect, use public transportation or ask someone else to drive when possible.

Avoid driving between 12 AM and 6 AM.
If you must drive during this peak sleepiness period, stay vigilant for signs of drowsiness, such as crossing over roadway lines or hitting a rumble strip, especially if you're driving alone. If you start to get sleepy, drink one to two cups of coffee and pull over for a short 20-minute nap in a safe place, such as a lighted, designated rest stop. Studies show that this increases alertness, but only for short time periods.

Don't rely on short-term solutions.
Drinking coffee or energy drinks alone is not always enough. They might help you feel more alert, but the effects only last a short time, and you might not be as alert as you think you are. If you drink coffee and are seriously sleep-deprived, you might still have “micro sleeps,” or brief losses of consciousness, that can last for four or five seconds. This means that at 55 miles per hour, you've traveled more than 100 yards down the road while asleep — plenty of time to cause a crash.

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