By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
We all know it’s wrong to drink and drive, but did you realize driving while drowsy is the same as driving impaired?
Nearly 70 million people are sleep deprived or suffer from a sleep disorder according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep deprivation is a major contributor to vehicle crashes. Statistics have found that people tend to fall asleep while driving at high speed, driving long distances or driving on rural roadways. Therefore, to shed light and bring awareness to this important issue, November 4-11, 2018 is recognized as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
We encourage children to get plenty of sleep each night, and as adults we need to take our own advice. However, when the time comes to crawl into bed each night, that is when many thoughts seem to start swirling around in our heads. From stressful triggers like daily responsibilities including finances, work, health, families and relationships to changing shifts at work, obtaining a decent night’s sleep is often easier said than done. For farmers, weather factors and the extra demands during hectic seasons, like spring planting and fall harvest, can add to sleep deprivation and drowsiness.
To help you stay awake and avoid being drowsy behind the wheel, here are six important tips to keep in mind:
- Ensure you are getting plenty of sleep. 7 to 9 hours is best!
- If you have been awake for more than 24 hours – avoid getting behind the wheel. It is not safe to drive!
- If you have a long drive ahead and you start to feel sleepy, get some caffeine. If all else fails, find someplace safe to pull over and take a nap, or stay somewhere for the night.
- On long road trips or extensive hours behind the wheel, plan for regular breaks and stops. A good rule of thumb is stopping every 100 miles or every two hours.
- Plan your travel at times when you feel the most awake. If possible, have a passenger to keep you company or help with the drive.
- Speak up! If you see someone that appears sleep deprived getting behind the wheel, say something. Avoid endangering the life of the driver, as well as others on the road, in the same way you would if you suspected someone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For more information on drowsy driving, visit sleepfoundation.org/drowsy-driving. Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants learn the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and the consequences of driving or completing tasks while drowsy in relation to healthy lifestyles. Thanks to our friends at Drunk Busters of America, LLC., a sponsor of Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program, great hands-on resources, including goggles that simulate drowsy, distracted and impaired driving, are available for purchase by our coordinators. More than 400 Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® are being planned for 2019 in farming and rural communities all throughout North America. For more information or to locate a Safety Day near you, visit www.progresiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.
Photo: Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants from Minnesota learn about various distractions that can occur while driving during a roadway safety hands-on activity.