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Dangers of Driver Fatigue Increasing

Driving under the influence of substances or cell phones is a widely hazard discussed in our modern era of driver safety. However, driver fatigue is just as dangerous but receives much less attention from mainstream media sources.

Driver fatigue makes it harder to pay attention to the road, limits reaction times and reduces a driver’s ability to make good decisions. Sleep deprivation hampers long term thinking and makes our bodies less responsive, so driving exhausted can be extremely dangerous.

Knowing the effects of fatigue of your driving habits can literally save your life, so before you hit the road, here’s a collection of fatigue related facts you need to know to keep yourself safe.

  • AAA found that drivers who have two to three hours less sleep than the daily recommended amount are four times more likely to get in a crash compared to people who get at least seven hours of sleep.
  • Federal regulators have found drowsy driving as dangerous as drunk driving. The impaired visuals and the slower reaction times are usually hallmarks of the drunk driver, but driving under the influence of fatigue produces the same symptoms.
  • One-third of drivers report driving while they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, visually impairing their driving and endangering themselves and others.
  • The groups most commonly affected by driver fatigue are teenagers, the elderly, and the chronically sleep deprived.
  • An astonishing one in five fatal car crashes involved a drowsy driver. That’s 20% of all car crashes!
  • 1 in 25 adults reports falling asleep behind the wheel within the previous 30 days.
  • The National Highway Administration estimates that 72,000 car crashes each year result from driver fatigue. That number includes an estimated 6,000 fatal crashes.

What can you do to combat drowsy driving?

First of all, get enough sleep! Getting at least seven hours of sleep at night can prevent sleep debt, the psychological and physiological state of being chronically underslept.

Additionally, keep an eye on friends and loved ones heading to their cars. If they look too drowsy to drive, don’t let them get behind the wheel and risk a crash. Offer to have them sleep it off rather than risking an accident.

If you’re on a long car ride, take turns driving- even if you feel alert. Swapping out allows precious rest and recovery time that can make the difference between driving safe and falling asleep behind the wheel.

If you can’t take turns, pull over and rest! Plan ahead in your route to target rest stops where you can take a nap. This is especially important if you’re a commercial truck driver doing long haul work or on a long trip alone.

Finally, pay attention to signs of drowsy driving. If you drift lanes, lose track of the past few miles, miss an exit, or hit a rumble strip on the side of the road, you may be driving under the influence of driver fatigue!

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