Summer road-trip season is here, which means thousands of people will hit the roads all throughout the country to travel to their vacation destinations. Oftentimes these trips involve long drives, sometimes overnight, on a seemingly endless stretch of highway. During these long road-trips, many drivers will ignore the need to stop and rest adequately, and continue to drive until they reach their destination. Unfortunately, thousands of people are killed every year in accidents that involve drowsy or fatigued drivers. The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety was recently awarded a grant that will be used to combat this dangerous driving situation.
Drowsy driving is a widespread phenomenon. According to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2015, at least 5,000 deaths were attributed to traffic accidents caused by drowsy drivers. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that at least 50 percent of American drivers frequently drive under the influence of sleep or fatigue. More than 40 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep while driving at least once in the past.
The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety recently received a $15,000 grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Road Safety Foundation to aid in its campaign against drowsy driving in the state. The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety strives to promote awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving which is a dangerous but overlooked hazard on Georgia’s roads.
The National Road Safety Foundation and the Governors Highway Safety Association have been issuing these grants over the past three years. The initiative encourages states to use a combination of public awareness messaging and partnerships to engage the public and educate people about the dangers of drowsy driving. The Georgia Governors Office of Highway Safety plans to sue these funds to partner with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and promote the campaign at the Georgia National Fair.
Driving while sleepy can be as dangerous as drunk driving, but receives just a fraction of the attention. A driver’s reaction times, judgement ability and his ability to take emergency actions to avoid an accident are all impaired by sleep or fatigue, just as alcohol impedes a person’s ability to drive safely and responsibly. According to the National Safety Council, driving after 20 sleepless hours is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. Some groups, like young males and college students, are more likely to be involved in drowsy driving crashes.
If you are frequently yawning or nodding off while driving, finding it difficult to focus on the road ahead, have missed turns or signs or find yourself frequently drifting off your lane, you are in danger of causing a crash as a result of your drowsiness. Park somewhere safe so you can take a short nap to recharge before you resume driving. To avoid drowsy driving, get plenty of sleep before you begin a trip, especially a long one. And be sure to check if any medications that you take do not have drowsiness as a side effect.
Auto companies have also joined in the anti-drowsy driving campaign and have developed a number of systems including lane departure warning systems and sleep alerts which are now available in many car models. These new features along with a driver’s own awareness can help keep the roads safe from the dangers of drowsy driving.