Listen to my voice…You’re getting sleeepy…
In a recent study, more than 50% of New York State drivers admitted that they had driven while drowsy in the past year, while almost 25% percent reported that they had fallen asleep while driving at some point in their lives. But people are tired all the time, right? Does this sleepiness really amount to anything more than a little yawning? Big-time super-cala-soporfic-ally yes. Drowsy driving causes 100,000 crashes each year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Lack of Sleep = Same Impact as Drinking Alcohol
When people were kept awake for 17 hours, they tested the same on cognitive-motor tests as a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent; after staying awake 24 hours they tested equivalent to a BAC of 0.10 percent. 0.08 percent is enough to get you arrested for DUI in all 50 states, so basically, if you wake up at 6 am and drive home at 2:30 a.m., your driving skills would be the same as if you were DUI!
Even a micro-sleep, i.e. a quick “zone-out,” can be enough to cause serious trouble. If you’re driving 60 mph, you’re going 88 feet per second. Fall asleep for just three seconds, and you’ve nearly covered the length of a football field!
Who’s most likely to nod off behind the wheel? Grandpa? Actually, grandpa might be your safest driver as it relates to drowsy driving statistics. It’s the grandkids you should be worried about. Drivers aged 18-29 are 3.5x more likely to drive drowsy than seniors 65+. 71% of those 18-29 admitted to driving while drowsy, a number that gets higher still among men and people who work night shifts.
Our friends at The Automobile Association of America (AAA) offer two proven tips for staying awake: Get sleep, and take caffeine. Caffeine we can do. We can happily do (see Juan Valdez, Red Bull, Jolt Gum). But while we’d all love a solid nine hours of sleep every night, we imagine even the good folks at Triple A aren’t getting that much. So what can you do to stay awake?