Department Of Public Safety Launches Drowsy Driver Awareness Week
I didn't know it, but apparently, I have driven while intoxicated. You might be wondering, how could I not know if I had been drinking, or taking drugs before driving. Well I didn't. I don't drink and don't use drugs, other than prescriptions my doctor gives me, so unless Lisinopril impedes my driving ability, that wasn't a factor in my driving intoxicated. What I did do, was get behind the wheel after having been awake for more than 18 hours. Did you know that's equivalent to being intoxicated. It is, according to the CDC. I didn't, but it is one of the things I learned as the Utah Depatrment of Public Safety launched the annual Drowsy Driving Awareness Week for 2022.
You may have been in that situation, pulling the occasional all-nighter, being dead tired, but saying I can get home. Thankfully, in those times I have been short on the sleep I should be getting, I have made it through and arrived at my destinations safely. But, I may have been bucking the odds. According to information released by the DPS, one thing I do have going in my favor is that I'm getting older. In 2021, drivers in my age group were involved in 609 of the drowsy driving crashes that happened. At the same time drivers aged 13 to 20 were involved in 3,621 of the drowsy driving crashes. I'm still wondering about those 13 year old drivers, but that's another matter.
One thing I've got going against me? I'm a guy. The report says that male drivers are twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driver crash the female drivers. Another thing going against me? I want to get where I'm going. I love to drive. It's one of my favorite pleasures, but when I'm traveling the goal is to get where I intend to go. And that is another contributing factor to drowsy driving crashes, the road trip. When we got excited about getting to a vacation destination or even getting home to see missed family members, we decide to just press on and get there. It's a better idea to plan stops along the way, and even take an extra day for travel. The road trip factor may be a reason that July had the most drowsy related crashes in Utah in 2021.
Time Not On Your Side
Drowsy driver crashes spike at 6am, and a possible contributor to that is those great third shifters who work through the night, many on their feet all night long, are just trying to get home. Or, again, those who have pressed on through the night trying to make the next destination. A secondary daily spike for drowsy driving happens at 4pm. But, the biggest time factor in drowsy driving is the amount of time we don't spend sleeping. According to the CDC, more than one third of adults get less than seven hours of sleep per day. That 7 hours is the optimal amount of sleep sleep needed for good health and well being. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day and that young adults (18-25) get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. By the way, I'm feeling a bit cheated because that same report says my age group can get by on 7 to 9 hours of sleep and can get by on 5 to 6 hours.
So What To Do
There's a bunch of suggestions on the DPS report, but here are some highlights. Recognize the signs, as either the driver or a passenger. If you are riding along, and you are awake and aware, offer to drive. Get enough sleep, again 7 to nine hours a day. Travel with a companion, someone to talk with and help share driving. Take a break, every couple of hours or 100 miles. Already sleepy? Have some caffeine and find a place to stop for 3o minutes for it to take effect. Find a safe place to stop and take a nap – even 15 minutes can help. Or find a place to stay for the night. You can get more information on drowsy driving here.
I love to drive and visit and explore. It gives me a chance to de-compress for the day to day grind. But I'm trying to me more aware of my fatigue and mindset as I'm behind the wheel. Be safe out there. I'd write some more, but it's time for my nap.