Distracted driving grabs a lot of attention in the media, but there’s another threat that people shouldn’t underestimate, and that’s drowsy driving. In order to spread awareness about this serious issue, safety agencies around the country are partnering for an event called Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which runs until this coming Sunday.
One of the agencies responsible for spreading awareness this year is the California Highway Patrol, and that entity has been kind enough to release a valuable fact sheet focused on information surrounding drowsy driving and what can be done to reduce instances of such. The sheet is the result of the combined efforts of the California Office of Traffic Safety, the California State Transportation Agency, and of course, the CHP.
First, it’s important that drivers comprehend just how serious the drowsy driving hazard is. According to AAA, one sixth of all traffic accidents that occur are the result of fatigue at the wheel, and one eighth of all those incidents that require an individual to be hospitalized are similarly related to drowsiness. For their part, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that 1,550 people die, 40,000 people are injured, and 100,000 crashes take place on an annual basis because of drowsy driving.
Running contrary to that are the findings from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System from 2011. The CHP says that the data suggests 1,600 people died that year in an accident related to fatigue in California alone. That is higher than the 1,550 fatalities related by the NHTSA across the entire country.
To help reduce these numbers, no matter which are correct, the CHP is asking that all drivers make themselves aware of some of the symptoms of drowsiness, as taking note of them early can help prevent a serious crash. Pay attention to how well you’re able to focus on the road around you. If you notice your mind drifting, almost as if you’re daydreaming, you may need to pull over, especially if this is accompanied by drooping eyelids and a tendency to blink a lot.
Keep track of any accidental movements on the road. If you find your vehicle traveling out of your lane, perhaps indicated by the vibration from the rumble strips positioned along the edges of the lanes, you could be too tired. The same goes for if your reaction to other vehicles’ maneuvers is delayed or you find yourself getting close to leading vehicles without meaning to. Furthermore, if you’re having trouble actually remembering the last couple of miles, or you can’t identify street signs well, exhaustion may have set in.
Should these symptoms of exhaustion be present, make sure to pull of the side of the road in a safe place, preferably a parking lot, a motel, or a rest stop. Even 20 minutes of rest can help keep you and others safe.