We just observed the National Road Safety Week-2020. Learn how sleeplessness contributes to road mishaps, and how we can prevent drowsy driving.

The 31st National Road Safety Week was observed from 11th-17th January this year, to spread awareness about the magnitude and gravity of the problems in road safety in India. India ranks no-1 in terms of the most fatal road accidents happening every year in the entire world. The driver’s lack of sleep is a major contributor to road accidents. While the government is taking steps to actively improve the infrastructure and spread awareness, let us look at how we can personally ensure drowsy driving is controlled.

Road accidents carry a massive economic cost for India: 3-5% of its GDP every year

DROWSY DRIVING

Traffic accidents due to drowsy driving are one of the most serious consequences of insufficient sleep. A study by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) says that roughly 40% of road accidents on national highways are caused by exhausted drivers who doze off at the wheel. Driving drowsy is very similar to driving drunk. Driving with less than 5 hours of sleep is equivalent to driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.5 (0.8 is considered drunk!). 

Drowsiness—

  • Reduces our ability to pay attention to the road
  • Impairs our decision-making capacity
  • Slows reaction time 

DROWSY DRIVING CHECKLIST FOR ROAD SAFETY

We can’t know the exact moment when sleep will take over our body, but we can observe ourselves and look out for symptoms of drowsy driving. Adhere to this quick checklist to realize if you’re drowsy and if you are, take a break:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Missing turns we were supposed to take
  • Constant yawning
  • Difficulty recalling driving the last few km
  • Feeling restless and irritable

If you find yourself constantly yawning on the road, pull over safely, take a short nap, or grab a coffee. Do not continue driving if you’re feeling sleepy.

PREVENTION OF DROWSY DRIVING 

People who snored or usually slept 6 or fewer hours per day were more likely to report falling asleep while driving. Prevent drowsy driving before taking the wheel by following these tips:

  • Get enough sleep! Get the recommended 7-8 hrs of sleep every night.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule and develop healthy sleep habits.
  • If you have a sleep disorder or have symptoms of a sleep disorder such as snoring or feeling sleepy during the day, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Avoid medication that can make you drowsy. Read the label carefully before consuming medicine on the road.

Alcohol numbs the senses and severely slows down reaction time. Never attempt driving in a drunken state

Protect yourself and drive alert at all times. If your eyelids droop and head starts to nod, take a break or change drivers. If you think that you can handle yourself even when drowsy, you may be putting others in danger. Paying attention to this public health issue can prevent a lot of death and disabilities. Educate and help your friends and family stay safe.