Drowsy Driving is Dangerous Driving

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --
November 3-10, 2013 is "Drowsy Driving Prevention Week" and in an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and to help save lives, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) joins the California State Transportation Agency and California Highway Patrol in urging all Californians to remain vigilant and avoid driving when excessively tired or sleepy.

"Driving while drowsy or sleep-deprived can be a lethal combination," said Russia Chavis, Acting Director of the Office of Traffic Safety. "Sleepiness slows driver reaction times and impairs judgment—effects that can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol."

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and contributing to 1,550 deaths.

The American Automobile Association estimates that one out of every six deadly traffic crashes, and one out of eight crashes requiring hospitalization of drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving. Preliminary data for 2011 indicates more than 1,600 people lost their lives in collisions where fatigue was a factor on California's roadways.

"Know the signs of fatigue and take the time to rest when you find yourself feeling drowsy," said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow. "We want everyone to arrive at their destination safely and remain alert while behind the wheel."

The following warning signs to indicate that it is time to stop driving and find a safe place to pull over and rest:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Difficulty keeping daydreams at bay
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating, and/or hitting rumble strips
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles drive
  • Hitting highway rumble strips, the ridged edges to the road meant to jar drivers
  • Missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Feeling restless, irritable, or aggressive

Drivers who experience any of these symptoms should stop driving. Drivers who are far from home should use a reset stop, parking lot, or hotel to take a quick nap. Twenty minutes of napping helps clears fatigue. Caffeine can also improve wakefulness.

The Office of Traffic Safety recommends planning ahead to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. This starts with ensuring drivers have adequate sleep to maintain proper alertness during the day. Drivers should also schedule route breaks during long trips—every 100 miles or two hours.

For more information on drowsy driving, visit www.drowsydriving.org. For other traffic safety information, visit the California Office of Traffic Safety at www.ots.ca.gov.

CONTACT: Chris Cochran (916) 509-3063 chris.cochran@ots.ca.govSource:California Office of Traffic Safety