One in five fatal accidents involve an overly tired driver, according to new research published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA claims that these results confirm what safety experts have long suspected: the amount of drowsy driving in the U.S. is much greater than official statistics.
There are a lot of factors that cause driver fatigue. One of those is sleep apnea. We recognize the dangers involved and help treat patients with snoring and sleep apnea by using a sleep retainer instead of a CPAP machine.
Despite the fact that 95% of Americans deem it “unacceptable” to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28% admit to doing so in the last month.
Drowsy driving was a symptom that I had before I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I would have to stick my head out the window trying to stay away. I would have been one of the 28% admitting that I used to drive while drowsy.
Here are warning signs of drowsy driving:
- The failure to recall the last few miles traveled.
- Having rambling or wandering thoughts.
- Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open.
- Feeling as though your head is heavy.
- Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving over rumble strips at the side of the highway.
- Yawning constantly.
- Tailgating other vehicles.
- Missing traffic signs.
To combat fatigue, AAA suggests:
- Get at least seven hours of sleep the night before you drive.
- Travel at times when you’re usually awake, instead of leaving at midnight and driving straight through to your destination to avoid traffic.
- Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles, even if you’re not tired.
- Take turns driving. Vehicles with a passenger who takes a turn at the wheel are nearly 50 percent less likely to crash.
- Don’t rely on coffee to keep you awake. Everyone reacts to caffeine differently. Caffeine should never be used as a sleep substitute.
Remember this! It only takes a fraction of a second to progress from being awake to being asleep.