By Pabhra Pokhral, CCSU Nursing Student |New Britain Health Department at March 2, 2012 | 8:30 am | Print
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 100,000 automobile crashes results every year from people falling asleep at the wheels, resulting in 40,000 injuries and approximately 1,550 fatalities. Most of the accidents due to drowsy driving usually involve a single vehicle leaving the roadway, on high-speed roads with the driver driving alone. In addition, a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows about 40 percent of drivers admitted to falling asleep or nodding off at the wheel at some point in their life. Accidents due to drowsy driving have become very frequent and a serious issue because of the increase numbers of cars on the road. These days people tend to travel far distances for their jobs, which increases the likelihood of lack of sleep and accidents. AAA also states that people between the ages of 16-24 are at the highest risk of getting into drowsy driving accidents compared to any other age group, as most of which are usually college students who go to school and work long and late hours. In addition, the survey also found that men were more likely to be involved in drowsy driving incidents than women.
Motor vehicle accidents due to drowsy driving can be avoided in many ways, such by making lifestyle changes, pulling over or handing the keys to the passenger. Lifestyle changes can help reduce fatigue, lack of sleep and hence reduce drowsiness while driving. For a single driver, the best way to avoid drowsiness is to pull over and take a short nap or a break for fresh air. People tend to drink caffeine in the form of coffee or energy drinks but in reality caffeine takes 30 or more minutes to have an effect and the results are temporary. A short nap is more effective than caffeine as naps can rejuvenate you. Another preventative technique is to ask someone to pick you up if you are not able to rejuvenate, which is always better option than continuing to drive drowsy. Having a passenger in the car also helps you from avoiding drowsiness related accidents because you will have someone to talk to and if needed, you can always ask the passenger to drive as long as the passenger has a legal driving license, is alert and reliable. The other thing to keep in mind before driving is to avoid alcohol at any cost. Even a small amount of alcohol can alters a person’s perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.
Prevention is the best way to avoid drowsy driving accidents. In order to avoid car accidents as a result of drowsiness, consider taking a nap instead of or in addition to caffeine; hand the keys to passenger who is reliable and alert and most importantly, never drink and drive as it causes drowsiness. The little time it takes to pull over and nap can save your life and someone else as well.