In an interesting development, CNN today released a study by the University of South Carolina that shows drowsy driving affects nearly 20 percent of all drivers on the road.
The news network broadcast a test where an anchor spent 21 hours without sleep and then put her behind the wheel of a test vehicle. The University of South Carolina has an extensive car testing site and laboratory and carries out long-term studies for not only the federal government, but also the auto business. Knowing how drowsiness affects a driver is in the interest not only of government agencies but also of the auto business.
The results were interesting, according to the CNN story. As the anchor drove the test course, a camera studied her eyes and noted that each movement was heavy and slow and reaction times were slowed. Plus, the anchor made mistakes such as wandering between lanes and misjudging moves that she normally made quite easily when she was rested.
The study found that if you spend 21 hours on the road the level of your concentration and ability to drive is about the same as if you had a blood alcohol content of .8, which is considered quite drunk by most states.
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The CNN report noted that there are two major safety moves you can take to prevent what CNN called “drowsy driving.” They are:
- Pull off the road and take a 10-minute nap. According to the report this morning on CNN, a nap of as little as 10 minutes can reset your body clock and biorhythms so that you are refreshed and can push on. Of course, the report noted, if you are able to take a longer nap then take one as the more sleep one gets, even in the front seat of a car, brings the body’s clock back to normal and ends “drowsy driving."
- Have a second driver with you. This makes a great deal of sense if you are driving any major distances. When you feel very tired, you can switch off with the second driver taking the next stint behind the wheel. While the other driving is pushing ahead, you can then take a much-needed nap, as you get ready for your return to the steering wheel.
Whether you call it “drowsy driving,” or “impaired driving” or “sleepy driving” the result is the same and it is that as many as 20 percent of all accidents reported on major highways involve it. And, since alcohol or drugs are not involved, there’s no way you can prove that it wasn’t a technical failure on the car’s part or the driver’s impairment.
So, if you feel tired, CNN notes, take the time to rest before you hit the road again.