New PSA campaign seeks to prevent drowsy driving

We've all had the experience of driving tired. A cup of coffee helps, but there is no real substitute for 8 hours of sleep. But we all have busy lives, and sometimes driving tired is unavoidable.

Unfortunately, the frequency with which drowsy driving occurs is staggering. Millions of accidents occur every year due to drowsy driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 8,000 people lose their lives in accidents involving drowsy driving every year.

Every day, 83.6 million drive drowsy. That is why the NHTSA began a national campaign on March 20 (the first day of Spring) to raise awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving is impaired driving

Being tired behind the wheel may seem like mostly an inconvenience. However, sleep deprivation has real consequences on driving behavior. According to sleep specialists, being drowsy behind the wheel causes:

  • Impaired reaction time
  • An inability to think of two things at once (increasing the danger of distracted driving) and
  • Impaired memory (which can lead to accidents, particularly when trying to find a new place)

In fact, drowsy driving mimics the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant that similarly leads to slower reaction time and inhibited decision-making. Also similarly to being impaired, it can be easy to think that you are fine to drive even when you are suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation.

Daylight savings time is illustrative

We learn the danger of drowsy driving every year during daylight saving time. Most of us were a little groggy on March 13 and 14, when we had to set our clocks forward one hour. Unfortunately, daylight saving time leads to an increased risk for drivers. In the first days after DST, car accidents increase dramatically.

While the affects of daylight saving time wear off, fortunately, drowsy driving is a problem year-round.

Tips to help reduce driving drowsy

There are ways to help reduce drowsy driving, of course. Getting enough sleep is paramount. While it can be easy to skip sleep, it really is a health and safety issue.

You can also plan ahead. For example, have someone pick you up from the airport or take a cab after a long flight, rather than renting a car or driving yourself. If all else fails, a short break from driving that involves coffee, some exercise and even a nap are all beneficial.

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Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne is an accomplished lawyer who practices in state and federal courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He brings more than 30 years of experience and a long record of success to each case. His law practice is distinguished by careful preparation and thorough analysis of each case...

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