Every driver should know the warning signs and avoid drowsy driving.
By Laura McDougall
Executive Director, Four Corners Health Department
It has probably happened to you. You are driving on a long trip, traveling alone or at night, or perhaps just off from a long shift at work—and you start to yawn. Your eyes are heavy, the road seems to go on forever, and your vehicle veers. You have just entered a danger zone.
In Nebraska, drowsy driving contributes to as many as 300 fatigued-involved crashes and more than 130 serious injury/fatalities annually.
This crash involvement is too high and Nebraska safety advocates will be working in seven target counties (York, Seward, Hall, Hamilton, Buffalo, Dawson and Lancaster) to carry out drowsy driving injury prevention work.
Research shows that nearly a third of drivers admitted to driving within the prior thirty days when they were so tired that they had trouble keeping their eyes open. This lack of sleep slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and increases the risk of dozing off while driving.
That’s why Four Corners Health Department is teaming up with the Nebraska Department of Transportation – Highway Safety Office to remind all drivers to be well rested before they get behind the wheel. The Don’t Snooze and Cruise drowsy driving injury prevention campaign will educate young drivers and older drivers about the need for 8 hours of sleep. Getting good sleep on a regular basis is the best defense against drowsy driving.
Every driver should know the warning signs and avoid drowsy driving. Having trouble keeping your head up, nodding off, veering into another lane or onto the rumble strip, and frequent yawning — are all signals that you are too drowsy to drive safely.
Sleep is the best remedy. Rolling down the windows, turning up the radio or drinking a caffeinated beverage are not enough to stave off drowsiness.
If you are drowsy while behind the wheel, find a safe place to pull off the roadway, get out and walk every 100 miles, or take a break to recharge. Physical activity such as a brisk walk or moving around offers a natural boost of energy.
On long trips, try not to drive alone. A driver accompanied by a passenger is nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a drowsy-driving related crash.
Drivers who sleep less than five hours per night are six times more likely to be involved in a drowsy-driving-related crash than drivers who get eight or more hours of sleep. Take the simple step to protect yourself and others by being well rested before you get behind the wheel. Always remember to buckle up every person, every time, in every position.
If you do find yourself drowsy, while driving — remember: Don’t Snooze and Cruise. It may just save your life or someone else’s.
For more information visit: https://dot.nebraska.gov/safety/driving/drowsy/ or www.fourcorners.ne.gov.