Drowsy Driving

Coffee overcomes the effects of drowsiness while driving:
FALSE.
Caffeine is not a substitute for sleep. It works only in the short run and wears off FAST. You are still subject to sleep-deprived “micro-naps” that can last four to five seconds. At 55 MPH, that is more than 100 yards!

I can tell when I’m going to sleep:
FALSE.
Most people think this is true. It is NOT. If you are drowsy, you know generally when you might fall asleep, but the exact moment when you will fall asleep is out of your control. You also do not know how long you have been asleep, and even a few seconds can end up in fatal results for you or someone else.

I’m a safe driver, so it doesn’t matter if I’m sleepy:
FALSE.
The ONLY safe driver is the alert driver. A driving instructor becomes a menace if he is sleepy behind the wheel. The young man who was awarded “America’s Safest Teen Driver” in 1990 later fell asleep behind the wheel and was killed.

I can’t take naps:
FALSE.
Many people say this. If you think you can’t, stop the car and recline for 15 minutes. Find a quiet place that is safe. Lock your doors and roll up your windows. If you’d like to, carry a sleep mask.

Nearly everyone gets plenty of sleep:
FALSE.
Do you wake up RESTED? Not very many people do. The average person needs seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you don’t get that much, you are building up a “sleep debt” which is cumulative.

Being sleepy makes you misperceive things:
TRUE.
Have you ever driven at night and thought you’d seen an animal, but it turned out to be something else? A drowsy driver does not process information as fast or accurately as an alert driver and is unable to react quickly enough to avoid a collision.

Young people need less sleep:
FALSE.
In fact, teens and young people need MORE sleep than people in their 30s. This is due to increased activity and output which require more regeneration time.

Sleeping and driving don’t mix:
FACTS:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 200,000 auto collisions annually may be fatigue-related. There is an under-recognized problem of sleep-related collisions on our roads. Automobile crashes caused by fatigue and sleepiness represent a staggering cost in terms of human suffering as well as healthcare and insurance payments.

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