2010-11-11 / Local & State

Return To Standard Time Brings Reminder To Avoid Drowsy Driving

With the earlier arrival of nightfall, the departments of Transportation and Insurance remind drivers to be aware of the importance of staying alert behind the wheel and, if feeling drowsy, to pull over or postpone travel.

November 8-14 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. In Pennsylvania, between 2005 and 2009, there was an average of nearly 2,300 drowsy driving-related crashes a year.

“With busy schedules and plenty of demands on people, it can be easy to push too hard and not be as sharp as you should be when you climb behind the wheel,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “Closing your eyes, even for a few seconds, while behind the wheel could cause you to lose control of your vehicle which could lead to tragic consequences.”

“Driving drowsy, fatigued, or exhibiting sleeping behaviors are among the top 10 reasons that insurance companies note cause auto accidents and their related claims,” said acting Insurance Commissioner Robert L. Pratter. “Studies show the risk of an accident doubles after just four hours on the road and drivers often fail to recognize drowsiness early enough.”

All drivers are at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, but some groups face a higher risk. Shift workers, business travelers, commercial drivers and young drivers tend to drive late at night. Drowsy driving can cause slower reaction time, poor judgment and impaired vision.

Follow these tips to avoid falling asleep while driving:

Avoid alcohol or medication that may cause drowsiness;

Get enough sleep before going on a long drive;

Stop for breaks, resting for 10 minutes after every 100 miles of travel;

Get safely off the road if you feel sleepy; and

Always wear your seat belt.

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