The Insurance Alliance of Michigan is encouraging drivers to think twice before getting behind the wheel when they feel sleepy, part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about tired driving during Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
“Drowsy driving is becoming a serious problem in Michigan and across the country,” said Dyck Van Koevering, general counsel for the Insurance Alliance of Michigan. “Nationwide, more than 1,500 people are killed and 71,000 people are hurt every year in crashes involving a driver drifting off to sleep at the wheel or driving drowsy.”
According to an analysis of crash statistics by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one in six fatal car crashes is caused by a drowsy driver. Younger drivers, between the ages of 16 and 24, were almost twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash as other drivers over the age of 40. Over half of these crashes involved an exhausted driver drifting into other lanes or off the road.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study also found:
· Drivers accompanied by a passenger were 50 percent less likely to be involved in a drowsy driving-related crash.
· More than half of drivers who said they fell asleep while driving said it occurred on an interstate or highway, and half of them said they fell asleep within the first hour on the road.
· A quarter of drivers who admitted to falling asleep while driving dozed off between noon and 5 p.m.
“These accidents are 100 percent preventable,” Van Koevering said. “Drivers should be sure to get enough rest before they get behind the wheel and make frequent stops during long drives to ensure they stay well-rested.”
The Michigan State Police offers the following tips for drivers before they get on the road or become drowsy behind the wheel:
· Get between seven and nine hours of sleep before driving
· Schedule breaks during long trips
· When you make stops, find a safe place to take a break
· Be alert and avoid alcohol or medications that may cause drowsiness