Fleet Safety Tip: Drowsy Driving

Jun 04, 2010

It’s time for another Friday Fleet Safety Tip from the good folks over at Automotive Fleet.  This week is all about the dangers of driving while drowsy and how to combat the behavior.  Please pass this useful information along to your drivers:

  • Less than half of Americans say they get a good night’s sleep every night. Combine excessive sleepiness with a vehicle and the risk for a fall-asleep crash increases significantly. 
  • In fact, 28 percent of American drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, and more than half (54 percent) said they have driven while drowsy. 
  • According to the National Sleep Foundation, if a driver starts to do the following, it’s time to get off the road and find a safe place to pull over. 
  • Have problems focusing, blink frequently and/or have heavy eyelids
  • Drift from your lane, swerve, tailgate and/or hit rumble strips
  • Have trouble remembering the last few miles driven
  • Miss exits or traffic signs
  • Have trouble keeping your head up
  • Yawn repeatedly
  • Find yourself rolling down the windows or turning up the radio. 

The National Sleep Foundation offers these countermeasures to prevent fall-asleep crashes: 

  • Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road. You’ll want to be alert for the drive, so be sure to get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours) the night before you go.
  • Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. It’s better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.
  • Use the buddy system whenever feasible for long distances. A buddy who remains awake for the journey can take a turn behind the wheel and help identify the warning signs of fatigue.
  • Take a break every 100 miles or two hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching drivers, or going for a run.
  • Take a nap — find a safe place to take a 15- to 20-minute nap, if you think you might fall asleep. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect.
  • Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
  • Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.

 Photo courtesy of SuperFantastic under the Creative Commons License