Don’t drive if you’re drowsy

 

Sunday morning, I relished gaining an extra hour of sleep. Still, the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 3-10 as National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to save lives and prevent fatigue-related vehicle crashes because of the risks of driving while drowsy.

In 2012, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 281,340 traffic crashes in Florida that involved 468,470 drivers, an average of 770 crashes per day. In Miami-Dade County alone, there were 50,812 car crashes — the highest in the state. This represents a more-than-20-percent increase from 2011. While it is unclear how many of these crashes could be attributed to drowsy or fatigued driving, chances are some of them were.

Such crashes result in at least 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries every year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

National Sleep Foundation says that these are the at-risk groups for drowsy driving:

Young people, especially males under age 26.

Shift workers, such as those in healthcare, and people with long work hours. Working the night shift increases one’s risk by nearly six times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful.

Commercial drivers, especially long-haul drivers. At least 15 percent of all heavy-truck crashes involve fatigue.

People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders. Those with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have an up to seven times increase in the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

Business travelers who spend many hours driving or might be jet lagged.

For more information, go to www.drowsydriving.org

R. John Repique, R.N., member, Professional Issues Panel on Nurse Fatigue, American Nurses Association, Miami

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