Move to Daylight Savings Increases Drowsy Driving Risk

New York, March 8, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- (http://www.myprgenie.com) -- The annual move to daylight savings time this weekend brings more than an extra hour of daylight. It also brings an increased risk of drowsy driving, a significant factor in crashes on our roads and highways nationwide.

The National Road Safety Foundation warns drivers to be extra cautious at this time of year and to be especially aware of the risk of driver fatigue. The time change can disrupt normal sleep patterns, resulting in less sleep and the possibility of drowsiness behind the wheel.

Drowsy driving results in more than 100,000 crashes every year, causing about 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than $12 billion in losses, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving," said David Reich of the National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization that produces and distributes free driver safety education programs. Studies show 60 percent of motorists have driven while fatigued and more than a third admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel.

"Rolling down the windows or blasting the radio won't keep you awake if you are sleep-deprived," Reich said. "Those tactics simply don't work."

The brain may compensate for fatigue by taking micro-sleeps for a few seconds or longer. During a three- or four-second micro-sleep, a car at highway speed can travel the length of a football field, veering out of its lane and into oncoming traffic or off the road and into a tree. Sleep-induced crashes are often very serious, since a dozing driver may not take evasive or corrective action as the vehicle leaves its lane.

Drivers should recognize the signs of drowsiness that should warn a driver to stop and rest:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Frequent blinking
  • Not remembering the last few miles driven
  • Head nodding
  • Repeated yawning or rubbing eyes
  • Drifting out of your lane, tailgating or going over rumble strips.

A driver who experiences any of these warning signs should pull over at the next safe spot and take a break and, if possible, a 20-minute nap. Have a cup or two of coffee or a caffeinated snack and allow 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream. Don't drink alcohol or take medications.

The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization, produces videos and teaching materials that have been used to train millions of young drivers. Its program "Recognizing the Drowsy Driver," as well as others that deal with drinking and driving and speed and aggression, can be downloaded free at www.nrsf.org or by calling toll-free 1-866-SAFEPATH.

CONTACT: David Reich, david@reichcommunications.com, 212 573-6000 Source:The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc.

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