The National Sleep Foundation Advises Travelers to Get Enough Sleep Before Hitting the Highway
The Drive Alert and Arrive Alive with Lifesaving Tips to Prevent Drowsy Driving and Fall-Asleep Crashes
WASHINGTON, DC, May 21, 2008 -- The Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest times for American drivers; road trips can turn tragic for travelers if they get behind the wheel without having had a good night's sleep. Sleepiness causes slower reaction times, vision impairment, lapses in judgment and delays in processing information, which are all critical elements for safe driving practices.
“Too many Americans are too tired to drive. In fact, according to NSF’s recently released 2008 Sleep in America poll, an alarming 36 percent of respondents admit to actually nodding off or falling asleep while driving,” stated David M. Cloud, NSF’s Chief Executive Officer. “Hectic weekend getaways may add to the problem as many get on the road at ungodly hours to beat the traffic. Not getting enough sleep puts everyone at increased risk for fall-asleep crashes. Understanding crucial warning signs and countermeasures is key to preventing sleep-related crashes.”
Warning Signs -- Feeling Sleepy? Stop Driving!
The following warning signs indicate that it’s time to stop driving and find a safe place to pull over and reassess your condition:
- Rolling down the window or turning up the radio;
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids;
- Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips;
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven;
- Missing exits or traffic signs;
- Trouble keeping your head up;
- Yawning repeatedly.
Countermeasures -- NSF’s Tips for Drowsy-free Driving:
- 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. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by driving at night or without stopping for breaks. However, crashes caused by sleepiness are among the most deadly. It's better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.
- Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving alone 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 2 hours.
- Avoid alcohol and medications (over-the-counter and prescribed) that may impair driving performance and magnify the effects of sleepiness.
- Avoid driving at times when you would normally be sleeping.
- Take a nap; find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap.
- Pack a cooler filled with caffeinated beverages or keep caffeinated gum and mints in the glove box. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours. Since caffeine in liquid form takes about 20 to 30 minutes to take effect, consume caffeine before taking a short nap to get the benefits of both.
For more information about drowsy driving, visit NSF’s special drowsy driving and sleep Web site at www.DrowsyDriving.org.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving greater understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. NSF furthers its mission through sleep-related education, research, and advocacy initiatives. NSF’s membership includes researchers and clinicians focused on sleep medicine as well as other professionals in the health, medical and science fields, individuals, patients and more than 800 sleep clinics throughout North America that join the Foundation’s Community Sleep Awareness Partners program. For more information, visit, www.sleepfoundation.org.