CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 4, 2019) – AAA Carolinas is reminding motorists of the dangers of driving while tired during National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (November 3-10).
“With fall activities in full swing and the end of daylight saving time, there is a greater risk for drowsiness behind the wheel,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “We urge motorists to get the full recommended amount of sleep each night despite their busy schedules as drowsy driving is now involved in one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year.”
Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel. AAA Carolinas urges drivers to not rely on their bodies to provide the warning signs of fatigue, but rather to always get the recommended sleep.
Missing just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep each day doubles a driver’s risk for a crash, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest study. It’s an alarming statistic when you consider at least 35 percent of U.S drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
AAA Carolinas offers the following tips to help drivers avoid potential crashes:
- Rest Up: Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. If you do begin to feel drowsy while driving, pull over immediately and rest or call a family member or friend for assistance.
- Be prepared for morning/afternoon sun glare: Sun glare in the morning or late afternoon can cause temporary blindness. To reduce the glare, AAA Carolinas recommends wearing high-quality sunglasses and adjusting the car’s sun visors as needed. Use of the night setting on rearview mirrors can reduce glare from headlights approaching from the rear.
- Car Care Maintenance: Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and windows (inside and out) clean.
- Ensure headlights are properly aimed: Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce visibility.
- Keep headlights on low beams when following another vehicle, so other drivers are not blinded.
- Reduce your speed and increase your following distances. It is more difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night.
- Be mindful of pedestrians and crosswalks: Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
The automobile industry is trying to help combat the problem by equipping vehicles with features to alert a driver when they might be falling asleep at the wheel. Some of the recent new car technologies designed to curb drowsy driving are:
- Lane-Keep Assist technology alerts drivers when the vehicle deviates from its traffic lane. Depending on the system, it will either vibrate the steering wheel, distribute a beeping noise to alert the driver, or even steer the motorist back into their lane.
- Collision Warning System scans the road using a camera or radar and then alerts drivers as they near another vehicle that is stopping significantly faster than they are. It senses that its driver is not intending to stop quickly enough to avoid hitting the car in front of them. Some will beep and a break symbol will light up on the dash while others will even tap the brakes to assist the driver in coming to a stop.
- Drowsiness Detection System monitors a vehicles movements and based on the wheel angle, lane deviation, time driven, etc. it will warn the driver to take a break with a sound and a coffee cup symbol lighting up on the dashboard.