Mark R Traudt, 50, of Spring Hill , Florida was traveling southbound on I-75 when he lost control of his tractor trailer, as it went onto the shoulder of the road and overturned, according to Florida News Flash, Hernando County edition. The Spring Hill resident is in serious condition at Oak Hill Hospital.
The incident happened approximately 4:20 am and though I am not speculating on the cause of his accident, it did get me wondering if he became drowsy and “fell asleep at the wheel”
Driving while drowsy is a national epidemic! The National Sleep Foundation did a Sleep In America poll in 2005. In that poll they discovered that about 60% of adult drivers or about 168 million people, said that they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy, within that year. About 37% or 103 million people, said that they had actually fallen asleep while driving! Approximately 11 million drivers admit that they have had accidents or almost had accidents from dozing off while driving.
About $100,000 police-reported accidents, per year, can be attributed to driver fatigue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those accidents take the lives of about 1,500 people, cause about 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. It is believed that these figures are extremely conservative, since there is no way to determine if fatigue was actually the contributing factor and self reporting may be unreliable.
I think most of us can remember experiences of getting drowsy while driving; especially during long distance drives. It is important to recognize how sleepy you are getting, while driving and take appropriate measures to protect yourself, your passengers and other drivers and their property.
The National Sleep Foundation website DrowsyDriving.org has many helpful tips and resources, to help educate you and ideas to help educate others. Here are a few tips from their “Key Messages and Talking Points”, on how to reduce your risk for Drowsy Driving:
Get enough sleep—most adults need 7-9 hours, and most teens need 8.5-9.5 hours, to
maintain proper alertness during the day.
Schedule proper breaks, about every 100 miles or 2 hours during long trips.
Arrange for a travel companion—someone to talk with and share the driving.
Avoid alcohol and sedating medications—check your labels or ask your doctor
Watch for the warning signs of fatigue.
Stop driving—pull off at the next exit or rest area, or find a place to sleep for the night.
Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15-20 minute nap (more than 20 minutes can
make you groggy for 15 minutes or more after waking).
Consume caffeine–the equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several
hours, and usually takes about 30 minutes to enter the bloodstream. Caffeine is available
in various forms (coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chewing gum, tablets), and in
various amounts. For example, the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee (about 135
mg) is about the same as 2-3 cups of tea or 3-4 cans of regular or diet cola.
Try consuming caffeine before taking a short nap to get the benefits of both.
Let a passenger take over the diving.
Driving, requires skill sets, that many take for granted. Those skill sets are compromised when under the influence, distracted by texting or driving while fatigued. It is each of our individual responsibility to operate our vehicles safely.