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Help stop driving while drowsy this November

When: November 6-12, 2011

What: Having a driver’s license is a big responsibility. Many people aren’t aware of how being tired on the road can affect driving skills. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, about 57 percent of drowsy driving crashes involve the driver drifting into other lanes or even off the road. Feeling sleepy behind the wheel can be a real detriment to both the driver of the vehicle and other cars on the road. Help prevent car crashes due to sleepiness during Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov. 6 to 12.

Background: Each year, the National Sleep Foundation and DrowsyDriving.org take a week to remind drivers of the dangers that can occur while driving fatigued. Although many people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, the dangers of driving while tired are often overlooked. Much like driving under the influence of alcohol, sleepiness can slow a person’s reaction time, decrease awareness and impair judgment, all leading to an increase in crash risk.

Story Pitch:  There are many groups and organizations that can take advantage of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Safe driving advocacy groups can use the week to encourage safety by offering advice on how to keep aware on the road. They can also point out the many signs of fatigue and offer suggestions on how to drive more cautiously. Sleep foundations and health organizations can use the week to promote the awareness of sleep disorders, which can also affect one’s driving skills. Auto insurers can also pitch around this event by pairing with police departments and other institutions to spread information on safe driving procedures.

Story Hook: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving results in 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents behind the wheel each year. What can people to do prevent drowsy driving accidents? What are the signs of fatigue? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • What are some of the effects of fatigue and how can they impair driving skills?
  • What are some ways in which a driver can avoid fatigue and feelings of sleepiness?
  • How often do sleep disorders go undiagnosed and how can they impair driving?
  • What steps can people take to avoid careless driving?

Tips: Be sure to provide contact information for a local police department or public safety expert who can discuss safe driving tactics. Someone with a sleep disorder can discuss how it affects driving abilities.

Resources:

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
(202) 408-1771
www.saferoads.org

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
(703) 247-1500
www.iihs.org

National Sleep Foundation
(703) 243-1697
nsf (at)sleepfoundation.org
www.sleepfoundation.org

Partnership for Safe Driving
www.crashprevention.org

–Researched, compiled & written by Kimberly Cooper
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