Troopers see it and hear it all the time. A driver telling a trooper after a collision, “I don’t know what happened, I must have fallen asleep.” These types of collisions are more common than one might think and just as devastating and dangerous as speeding, drinking and driving, or not wearing seat belts.
“Drowsy driving deaths are completely preventable if we all take the time to think twice before driving while tired,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “As the days are getting shorter, this is a good time to talk to drivers young and old about how deadly it can be to drive while tired.”
Drowsy driving has serious consequences. Between 2012 and October 2015, there were over 4700 collisions investigated in Washington State where the driver either fell asleep, was fatigued or both behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. People who drive tired or drowsy have impaired reaction time, judgment, vision, awareness of surroundings, and decision making skills. The warning signs of a tired or drowsy driver are trouble keeping eyes open and head up, difficulty focusing, yawning repeatedly, and missing highway exits or traffic signs.
“Drowsy driving is as dangerous as getting behind the wheel while under the influence,” said Chief John Batiste, Washington State Patrol. “A simple awareness by drivers can prevent them from getting behind the wheel tired and taking a life.”
Drowsy driving is such an important issue it prompted Governor Jay Inslee to sign a proclamation urging citizens to understand the dangers of drowsy driving and to join him in observing National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week from November 1-8, 2015.
Here are some simple tips for staying awake behind the wheel:
- Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road
- Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination
- Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh
- Use the buddy system to keep you awake and share driving chores
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect
- Avoid driving when you would normally be sleeping