About 328,000 accidents a year can be chalked up to drowsy driving, with about 6,000 causing fatalities. Through sleep awareness, great strides have been made in reducing drunk and distracted driving. It is important to turn attention over to drowsy driving. The National Sleep Foundation and Stop Drowsy Driving.org hope to change that with the sleep awareness Week, March 8-14th.
Truck drivers are at a greater risk of drowsy driving than the general population, so it is imperative for the industry to take this time to learn the signs of drowsy driving and how to prevent it. The signs for drowsy driving are as follows:
- Heavy eyelids, rubbing eyes, or prolonged blinking
- Head bobbing or nodding off
- Weaving, drifting out of your lane, hitting rumble strips
- Difficulty remembering the last couple miles driven
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Missing stop signs or other street signs
The best way to avoid drowsy driving is to improve sleep habits, but if you are already on the road and drowsiness hits:
- Pullover to a safe location and rest for an extended period of time
- Take a nap to refresh yourself (under 40 mins)
- Take a walk and stretch (may only provide a short period of awareness)
- Have a cup of coffee or tea (may only provide a short period of awareness)
As with cargo theft, the lack of available truck parking exacerbates this very serious safety issue. Look at drivers who must pull over on the shoulder of local expressways like the Clearview or LIE. Communities such as Forest Hills, Queens are complaining about trucks parked on local roads (fair), but would they prefer drowsy drivers cruising those same streets? Hopefully, the new hours of service rule improves flexibility but that is still only a partial fix. The investments made by New York State to reduce drunk and distracted driving are laudable. To seriously reduce drowsy driving, the state must invest in truck parking.
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