Drowsy Montanans and Driving Could be as Deadly as Drunken Driving
As you know, Montanan’s set their clocks back this past weekend. It's a huge adjustment getting used to the time change.
This time of year is the most dangerous to motorists and pedestrians, mainly due to sun and time change can create a level of fatigue, according to AAA MountainWest.
Take it from one who knows and totaled her car the morning after Daylight Savings Time ended, the association knows what it's talking about.
Feeling sleepy is especially dangerous when you are driving. Sleepiness slows your reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs your judgement, just like drugs and alcohol. People who are very sleepy behave in similar ways to people who are drunk. The impact that this has on traffic safety should not be underestimated. In terms of fatigue during this time of year, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one-in-five, or 21 percent, of fatal crashes involve driver fatigue.
So how can you remain alert and avoid drowsiness? AAA MountainWest suggests these tips for Montanans:
- Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip
- Traveling at times when you are normally awake, and staying overnight rather than driving straight through.
- Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles
- Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time-fatigue impact reaction time, judgement and vision, causing people who are very sleepy to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.
- Not planning to work all day and then drive all night
- Drink a caffeinated beverage. Since it takes about 30 minutes for a caffeine to enter the bloodstream, find a safe place to take a 20-30 minute nape while you are waiting for the caffeine to take effect.
- Avoid sleepy times of day. Take a mid-afternoon nap and find a place to sleep between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Travel with an awake passenger
AAA urges drivers to understand the warning signs of drowsy driving:
- The inability to recall the last few miles traveled;
- Having disconnected or wandering thoughts;
- Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open;
- Feeling as though your head is very heavy;
- Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips;
- Yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly;
- Accidentally tailgating other vehicles
- Feeling irritable and restless
- Missing traffic signs.
AAA MountainWest serves about 192,000 members in Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.