With prom season right around the corner, high schools around the nation will be reiterating the importance of being responsible on prom night – drinking and driving being the major topic of discussion. However, there is one dangerous activity that even many of the most responsible teens and adults have done, but no one talks about – driving when they are too tired.
Videos warning drivers of the consequences of “drowsy driving” are popping up all over social media. Search for “#takeabreaktostayawake” on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll find a slew of videos featuring victims asking individuals to take the pledge to stop driving while fatigued.
Think of it this way: most victims report closing their eyes for only a few seconds, but if you close your eyes for four seconds while driving 60 miles per hour, you will have driven the length of a football field. Scary, right? According to DrowsyDriving.org, driving while fatigued results in approximately 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses per year. So how can you be safe? The American Sleep Foundation provides the following do’s and don’ts should you feel tired behind the wheel:
• Get a good night’s sleep before a long drive.
• Get off the road if you notice any of the warning signs of fatigue.
• Find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap.
• While consuming two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours, DO NOT rely on it for long periods of time.
• Try consuming caffeine before taking a short nap to get the benefits of both.
• Drive with a passenger who remains awake to help watch for signs of fatigue in the driver and can take a turn driving, if necessary.
• Always wear your seatbelt.
• Drive if you are tired or on medication that may cause drowsiness.
• Rely on the radio, an open window or other tricks to keep you awake.
• Drive at times when you would normally be sleeping.
• Drink even a small amount of alcohol, especially if you are sleepy.
We highly encourage you to share this message with your students, and with your family and friends. Avoiding impaired driving – whether drinking or sleepy – can save a life.