Information courtesy of the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles
Along with the end of daylight saving time, the amount of daily sunlight is also decreasing in Colorado, meaning many Coloradans are at risk of driving fatigued or drowsy. In 2020, 633 people died from drowsy-driving-related crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
But there are steps motorists can take to make daily commutes safer for all Coloradans.
The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles encourages drivers to take extra care during this time of change and hopes to raise awareness of fatigued driving during Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and reduce the number of drivers who drive while sleep-deprived.
Eight drowsy driving warning signs to watch for:
- Finding it hard to focus on the road, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Starting to daydream, wandering eyes and having disconnected thoughts
- Having trouble remembering the last few miles driven
- Missing an exit or ignoring traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Finding it hard to keep your head up or nodding off
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable or becoming aggravated with common annoyances such as sitting in traffic
Before getting into the car with someone or driving yourself, ask the following:
- Are you sleep-deprived or fatigued? Are you suffering regularly from sleep problems? Fewer than 6 hours of sleep triples your risk of falling asleep while driving, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Are you planning to drive long distances without proper rest breaks?
- Will you be driving through the night, mid-afternoon or when you would normally be asleep?
- Are you taking medications that can make you sleepy such as antidepressants, cold tablets, or antihistamines?
- Have you been working more than 60 hours a week? A tightly packed work schedule increases your risk of drowsy driving by 40%, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Have you been working more than one job and your main job involves shift work?
- Did you drink alcohol? Even a small amount of alcohol can have an impact on your body.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, specific at-risk groups for driving sleep-deprived include:
- Young drivers — especially males under 25 years old.
- Shift workers and people with long work hours — working the night shift can increase your risk of drowsy driving by nearly six times. Rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful.
- Commercial drivers — especially long-haul drivers. At least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue and sleep-deprived driving.
- People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders — People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have up to seven times the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Business travelers — who spend long hours driving or may be jet-lagged from a previous trip.
Helpful tips for driving, include:
- Planning your trip ahead of time.
- If it is a long-distance trip, ask a friend to join you so they can help drive and monitor for signs of drowsy driving.
- If you feel tired, or drowsy or notice any of the signs above, pull over and get some rest and only continue driving when alert.