The Washington State Patrol notes that drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving that negatively affects one’s ability to drive safely and responsibly. Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed Nov. 5-12 as Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week.
Nationwide, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, with 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. From 2011 through 2015, in Washington state, there were 64 fatal collisions and 308 serious injury collisions investigated where a drowsy driver was involved.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the top risk groups for drowsy driving are:
- Young people, especially males under age 26
- Shift workers and people with long work hours. Working the night shift increases your risk by nearly six times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
- Commercial drivers, especially long-haul drivers. At least 15 percent of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
Drowsy driving is not only dangerous, it’s illegal. If you fall asleep at the wheel, you could receive a $550 fine for Negligent Driving.
“Drowsy drivers put everyone on the road in danger,” says WSP Chief John. R. Batiste. “This form of impaired driving can be prevented by taking some easy, sensible steps before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.”
Here are some simple tips for staying awake behind the wheel:
- Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road
- Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination
- Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh
- Use the buddy system to keep you awake and share driving chores
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect
- Avoid driving when you would normally be sleeping
For more information about drowsy driving and how to prevent it, visit drowsydriving.org