The National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week encourages everyone to prioritize sleep and drive when they are alert and refreshed.
The National Sleep Foundation’s goal is to help people get the sleep they need and reduce the number of drivers who choose to drive while sleep deprived. Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, scheduled for November 5-11, 2023, is one way the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is getting the word out in an effort to prevent thousands of motor vehicle crashes each year.
Drowsy driving is often referred to as the “fourth D” along with Drunk, Drugged, and Distracted, as the major causes of impaired driving. Awareness and prevention of drowsy driving has been a core part of the NSF’s advocacy agenda since 1990.
Drowsy Driving Prevent Week (DDPW) is a sleep and safety campaign hosted by NSF for the public. This campaign serves as an annual focal point aiming to educate the public about the importance of having adequate sleep before driving.
DROWSY DRIVING IS RISKY
Just like drunk, drugged, and distracted driving, drowsy driving is a public health issue, causing thousands of car crashes each year and killing an estimated 6,400 people in the U.S. alone according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports an estimated 100,000 crashes each year are caused primarily by drowsy driving, resulting in more than 71,000 injuries and $12.5 million in damages.
Drowsy driving is dangerously common. Most drivers can relate to a time when they have nodded off while driving. Importantly, drowsy driving is preventable.
Those who are at an increased risk of drowsy driving include drivers who do not get enough quality sleep, commercial drivers who operate tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses, as well as shift workers on the night shift or who have irregular or long shifts. Also at an increased risk of driving while fatigued includes anyone with an untreated sleep disorder, drivers who use medications that may cause drowsiness, and teenagers who have less driving experience and higher rates of insufficient sleep.
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is a great time to promote driving safety within your organization. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) provides plenty of resources you can use, including:
- An infographic describing six small steps for healthy sleep that all individuals should be practicing. This infographic can be posted in a common work area or would make a great topic for a safety meeting.
- Key results from the Drowsy Driving Survey provided in an easy to understand infographic and an in-depth report with graphs and a detailed analysis.
- A sponsorship prospectus for those companies who are ready to take the next step and become more involved in this public awareness initiative.
- Articles with even more information on topics like tips for staying alert on the road after work, understanding microsleep, why drowsy driving is so dangerous, and how to talk to teens about drowsy driving.
Drowsy driving is dangerous even if the driver doesn’t actually fall asleep at the wheel. Lack of sleep can make drivers less alert and affect their coordination, judgement, and reaction time. Driver fatigue can result in cognitive impairment that is similar to distracted driving or even drunk driving.
The effects of driver fatigue, all of which may cause a crash, can include:
- Nodding off while driving
- Slower reaction time
- Poor decision making or unnecessary risk-taking
- Drifting out of the lane
- Tunnel vision (losing sense of what’s going on in the periphery)
- Microsleeps (dozing off for a few seconds)
- Low awareness (driving without noticing or remembering)
All drivers should have a good understanding of the dangerous consequences of fatigue while behind the wheel, as well as some knowledge about the causes of fatigue, who may be at a higher risk, warning signs of drowsy driving, and safety tips to try both before and during a long drive that can help prevent driver fatigue.
There are a variety of ways organizations can participate in Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Some great ideas include:
- Lead a safety meeting or toolbox talk on the dangers of drowsy driving.
- Include information about Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in your company’s newsletter.
- Host a short safety briefing every day for 5 days on a different topic related to drowsy driving. Some ideas for individual daily topics include hazardous effects of driver fatigue, statistics related to drowsy driving, what causes drowsy driving, warning signs of drowsy driving, lifestyle changes that can prevent fatigue, how to plan ahead to prevent driver fatigue, and good sleep habits.
- Schedule a video training session on fighting fatigue in the workplace or driving safety.
- Provide information to employees that they can also share with their families about the dangers of drowsy driving along with guidance on healthy sleep habits.
- Have management send an email to all employees reinforcing the organization’s commitment to workplace safety and the importance of drowsy driving prevention.
- Post signs, infographics, or posters that remind workers that drowsy driving is dangerous.
- Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #SleepFirst and #DriveAlert.
The goal of our collective efforts will be to save lives. If we can get people to practice better sleep habits, think twice about getting behind the wheel when they are fatigued, and understand the risks associated with drowsy driving, then together we can significantly reduce the number of accidents caused by driver fatigue.