Respironics Inc. was the lead sponsor of the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov. 5-11. The new awareness campaign aims to save the lives of young drivers – the largest at risk group for drowsy driving crashes – by raising awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving and advocating for preventive measures at the state level.
“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nearly 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in over 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries,” says John Miclot, president and CEO of Respironics. “Because of these disturbing statistics and the fact that car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States, we are fully committed to supporting the NSF’s efforts to increase awareness of this alarming issue.”
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week was launched with the goal of raising public awareness of the signs of sleepiness behind the wheel such as having trouble focusing, frequent blinking, yawning, heavy eyelids, drifting from lane to lane and not remembering the last few miles driven. To avoid drowsiness when driving, the NSF recommends the following:
• Get adequate sleep before you drive
• Allow time for breaks on long trips (about every 100 miles or two hours)
• Use the buddy system by asking your passenger to stay awake during the drive to help keep you awake and to share the driving responsibilities
• Do not drink alcohol and be aware of the potential side effects of any medications you might be taking because some medications cause drowsiness
• Consume caffeine (the equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours but should not be relied upon to overcome sleep deprivation)
According to NSF’s 2006 Sleep in America poll, only one in five adolescents (20 percent) gets an optimal amount of sleep during the week, and more than half (51 percent) report having driven drowsy in the past year.