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Drowsy driving: A national safety crisis that's preventable

Around 2.6 percent of all fatalities recorded in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database is related to drowsy driving. While that figure is from 2014, when 846 people died in crashes caused by this problem, it should be noted that the problem has remained fairly constant for as long as the records have been kept.

The issue of fatigued driving continues to plague drivers on the roads today. Despite campaigns launched to warn people of the issue, the problem marches on. Here are some important points to remember about drowsy driving.

Sleep is the only solution

The human body needs sleep. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. When people don't get the sleep they need, the body begins to suffer. The body's circadian rhythm naturally regulates sleep. The late afternoon and from midnight to 6 in the morning are the two times when the circadian rhythm dips. Coincidentally, these times are the exact ones when there is an uptick in drowsy driving crashes.

Short-term solutions aren't likely to work

You might drink an energy drink or coffee to perk yourself up, but these are only temporary measures that can't be expected to last long. Drivers who are feeling like they are nodding off can drink some coffee if they must continue on their journey. Finding a safe place to stop for about 20 minutes while you rest is a possible solution, but it will only last a little while.

Depth of the issue

Drivers who are drowsy can nod off or become dazed. These are known as micro sleeps and can last around four to five seconds. In this amount of time, a vehicle that is traveling 55 miles per hour will move more than 100 yards, or the length of a football field.

Measures taken to help drowsy drowsy drivers can alert them to the issue. These measures, such as rumble strips on the side of the road, let drivers know that they are drifting off the road. This is a signal that pulling over to rest must be a priority.

Until all drivers decide that they are going to stop driving when they get drowsy, there are going to be crashes caused by this safety issue. Innocent victims will be injured or killed, which should be a call to action for everyone who gets behind the wheel.

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