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Time change signals Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week Nov. 5-12

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Tired driver. (Stock image)

Daylight Savings Time is set to end this Sunday at 2 a.m. Even with an extra hour of sleep, drowsy driving can still be a problem as the body adjusts.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is committed to reducing traffic fatalities and serious injury collisions on our state highways. Drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving that negatively affects one’s ability to drive safely and responsibly.

Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed November 5-12, 2017, as Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week.

Nationwide, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year with 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. From 2011 through 2015, in Washington State, there were 64 fatal collisions and 308 serious injury collisions investigated where a drowsy driver was involved.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the top risk groups for drowsy driving are:

  • Young people-especially males under age 26
  • Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
  • Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue

Drowsy driving is not only dangerous, it’s illegal. If you fall asleep at the wheel, you could receive a $550 fine for Negligent Driving.

“Drowsy drivers put everyone on the road in danger,” says Chief John. R. Batiste. “This form of impaired driving can be prevented by taking some easy, sensible steps before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

Here are some simple tips for staying awake behind the wheel:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road
  2. Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination
  3. Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh
  4. Use the buddy system to keep you awake and share driving chores
  5. Avoid alcohol, drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect
  6. Avoid driving when you would normally be sleeping

For more information about drowsy driving and how to prevent it, visit drowsydriving.org.

(By WSP Sergeant James Prouty)

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